The King's Jackal
The private terrace of the Hotel Grand Bretagneat Tangierwas shaded by a great awning of red and green and yellowand strewn withcolored matsand plants in potsand wicker chairs. It reached out from theKings apartments into the Garden of Palmsand was hidden by them on two sidesand showed from the third the blue waters of the Mediterranean and the greatshadow of Gibraltar in the distance.
The Sultan of Morocco had given orders from Fez that the King of Messinainspite of his incognitoshould be treated during his stay in Tangier with theconsideration due to his rankso one-half of the Hotel Grand Bretagne had beenset aside for him and his suiteand two soldiers of the Bashaw's Guard satoutside of his door with drawn swords. They were answerable with their heads forthe life and safety of the Sultan's guestand as they could speak no languagebut their own
they made a visit to his Majesty more a matter of adventure than of etiquette.
Niccolasthe King's majordomostepped out upon the terrace and swept theMediterranean with a field-glass for the third time since sunrise. He lowered itand turned doubtfully toward the two soldiers.
"The boat from Gibraltar -- has she arrived yet?" he asked.
The two ebony figures shook their heads stifflyas though they resented thisintroduction of a foreign languageand continued to shake their heads as theservant addressed the same question to them in a succession of strange tongues.
"Well" said Colonel Erhauptbrisklyas he followed Niccolas outupon the terrace"has the boat arrived? And the launch from theyacht" he continued"has it started for shore yet?"
The man pointed to where the yacht laya mile outside the harborand handedhim the glass.
"It is but just now leaving the ship's side" he said. "But Icannot make out who comes in her. Ahpardon" he added quicklyas hepointed to a stout elderly gentleman who walked rapidly toward them through thegarden. "The Gibraltar boat must be insir. Here is Baron Barrat coming upthe path."
Colonel Erhaupt gave an exclamation of satisfactionand waved his hand tothe newcomer in welcome.
"Go tell his Majesty" he said to the servant.
The man hesitated and bowed. "His Majesty still sleeps."
"Wake him" commanded Erhaupt. "Tell him I said to do so. WellBaron" he criedgaylyas he stepped forward"welcome -- or are youwelcome?" he addedwith an uneasy laugh.
"I should be. I have succeeded" the other replied grufflyas hebrushed past him. "Where is the King?"
"He will be here in a moment. I have sent to wake him. And you have beensuccessful? Good. I congratulate you. How far successful?"
The Baron threw himself into one of the wicker chairsand clapped his handsimpatiently for a servant. "Twelve thousand pounds in all" he replied."That's more than he expected. It was like pulling teeth at first. I wantsome coffee at once" he said to the attendant"and a bath. That boatreeked with Moors and cattleand there was no wagon-lit on the train fromMadrid. I sat up all nightand played cards with that young Cellini. HaveMadame Zara and Kalonay
returned? I see the yacht in the harbor. Did she succeed?"
"We do not know; the boat only arrived at daybreak. They are probably onthe launch that is coming in now."
As Barrat sipped his coffee and munched his rolls with the silent energy of ahungry manthe Colonel turned and strode up and down the terracepulling athis mustache and glancing sideways. When the Baron had lighted a cigarette andthrown himself back in his chairErhaupt halted and surveyed him in someanxiety.
"You have been gone over two weeks" he said. "I should liketo see you accomplish as much in as short a time" growled the other."You know Paris. You know how hard it is to get people to be serious there.I had the devil's own time at first. You got my cablegram?"
"Yes; it wasn't encouraging."
"WellI wasn't hopeful myself. They wouldn't believe a word of it atfirst. They said Louis hadn't shown such great love for his country or hispeople since his exile that they could feel any confidence in himand that hisconduct in the last six years did not warrant their joining any undertaking inwhich he was concerned. You can't blame them. They've backed him so many times
alreadyand they've been bittenand they're shynaturally. But I swore he wasrepentantthat he saw the error of his waysthat he wanted to sit once morebefore he died on the throne of his ancestorsand that he felt it was due tohis son that he should make an effort to get him back his birthright. It was theson won them. `Exhibit A' I call him. None of them would hear of it until Ispoke of the Prince. So when I saw thatI told them he was a fine little chaphealthy and manly and braveand devoted to his priestand all that rotandthey began to listen. At first they wanted his Majesty to abdicateand give theboy a clear road to the crownbut of course I hushed that up. I told them wewere acting advisedlythat we had reason to know that the common people ofMessina were sick of the Republicand wanted their King; that Louis loved thecommon people like a father; that he would re-establish the Church in all herpowerand that Father Paul was working day and night for usand that theVatican was behind us. Then I dealt out decorations and a few titleswhichLouis has made smell so confoundedly rank to Heaven that nobody would take them.It was like a game. I played one noble gentleman against anotherand gave thisone a portrait of the King one dayand the other
a miniature of `Exhibit A' the next and they grew jealousand met togetherandtalked it overand finally unlocked their pockets. They contributed about£9000 between them. Then the enthusiasm spread to the womenand they gave metheir jewelsand a lot of youngsters volunteered for the expeditionand six ofthem came on with me in the train last night. I won two thousand francs fromthat boy Cellini on the way down. They're all staying at the Continental. Ipromised them an audience this morning."
"Good" commented the Colonel"good -- £9000. I suppose youtook out your commission in advance?"
"I took out nothing" returned the otherangrily. "I broughtit all with meand I have a letter from each of them stating just what he orshe subscribed toward the expedition-- the Duke Dantizso much; the Duke D'Orvay50000 francs; the Countess Mattinia diamond necklace. It is all quiteregular. I played fair." The Colonel had stopped in his walkand had beenpeering eagerly down the leafy path through the garden. "Is that not Zaracoming now?" he asked. "Lookyour eyes are better than mine."
Barrat rose quicklyand the two men walked
forwardand bowed with the easy courtesy of old comrades to a tallfair girlwho came hurriedly up the steps. The Countess Zara was a young womanbut onewho had stood so long on guard against the worldthat the strain had toldandher eyes were hard and untrustfulso that she looked much older than she reallywas. Her life was of two parts. There was little to be told of the first part;she was an English girl who had come from a manufacturing town to study art andlive alone in Pariswhere she had been too indolent to workand too brilliantto remain long without companions eager for her society. Through them and thestories of her wit and her beautyshe had come to know the King of Messinaandwith that meeting the second part of her life began; for she had found somethingso attractiveeither in his title or in the cynical humor of the man himselfthat for the last two years she had followed his fortunesand Miss MurielWinterart studenthad become the Countess Zaraand an uncrowned queen. Shewas beautifulwith great masses of yellow hair and wonderful brown eyes. Hermanner when she spoke seemed to show that she despised the world and those in italmost as thoroughly as she despised herself.
On the morning of her return from Messina
she wore a blue serge yachting suit with a golf cloak hanging from her shouldersand as she crossed the terrace she pulled nervously at her gloves and held outher hand covered with jewels to each of the two men.
"I bring good news" she saidwith an excited laugh. "Whereis Louis?"
"I will tell his Majesty that you have come. You are most welcome"the Baron answered.
But as he turned to the door it opened from the inside and the king cametoward themshivering and blinking his eyes in the bright sunlight. It showedthe wrinkles and creases around his mouth and the blue veins under the mottledskinand the tiny lines at the corners of his little bloodshot eyes that markedthe pace at which he had lived as truthfully as the rings on a tree-trunk tellof its quiet growth.
He caught up his long dressing-gown across his chest as though it were amantleand with a quick glance to see that there were no other witnesses to hisdeshabillebent and kissed the woman's handand taking it in his own strokedit gently.
"My dear Marie" he lisped"it is like heaven to have youback with us again. We have felt your absence every hour. Pray be seatedandpardon my robe. I saw you through the blinds and
could not wait. Tell us the glorious news. The Baron's good words I have alreadyoverheard; I listened to them with great entertainment while I was dressing. Ihoped he would say something discourteous or foolishbut he was quite discreetuntil he told Erhaupt that he had kept back none of the money. Then I lostinterest. Fiction is never so entertaining to me as the truth and real people.But tell us now of your mission and of all you did; and whether successful ornotbe assured you are most welcome."
The Countess Zara smiled at him doubtfully and crossed her hands in her lapglancing anxiously over her shoulder.
"I must be very brieffor Kalonay and Father Paul are close behindme" she said. "They only stopped for a moment at the custom-house.Keep watchBaronand tell me when you see them coming.
Barrat moved his chair so that it faced the garden-paththe King crossed hislegs comfortably and wrapped his padded dressing-robe closer around his slightfigureand Erhaupt stood leaning on the back of his chair with his eyes fixedon the fine insolent beauty of the woman before them.
She nodded her head toward the soldiers who sat at the entrance to theterraceas silent and
immovable as blind beggars before a mosque. "Do they understand?" sheasked.
"No" the King assured her. "They understand nothingbut thatthey are to keep people away from me -- and they do it very well. I wish I couldimport them to Paris to help Niccolas fight off creditors. Continuewe are mostimpatient."
"We left here last Sunday nightas you know" she said. "Wepassed Algiers the next morning and arrived off the island at mid-dayanchoringoutside in the harbor. We flew the Royal Yacht Squadron's pennantand anowner's private signal that we invented on the way down. They sent me ashore ina boatand Kalonay and Father Paul continued on along the southern shorewherethey have been making speeches in all the coast-towns and exciting the people infavor of the revolution. I heard of them often while I was at the capitalbutnot from them. The President sent a company of carbineers to arrest them thevery night they returned and smuggled me on board the yacht again. We put off assoon as I came over the side and sailed directly here.
"As soon as I landed on Tuesday I went to the Hotel de Messinaand sentmy card to the President. He is that man Palacciothe hotel-keeper's sontheman you sent out of the country for writing
pamphlets against the monarchyand who lived in Sicily during his exile. Hegave me an audience at onceand I told my story. As he knew who I wasIexplained that I had quarrelled with youand that I was now prepared to sellhim the secrets of an expedition which you were fitting out with the object ofre-establishing yourself on the throne. He wouldn't believe that there was anysuch expeditionand said it was blackmailand threatened to give me to thepolice if I did not leave the island in twenty-four hours -- he was exceedinglyrude. So I showed him receipts for ammunition and rifles and Maxim gunsandcopies of the oath of allegiance to the expeditionand papers of the yachtinwhich she was described as an armored cruiserand he rapidly grew politeevenhumbleand I made him apologize firstand then take me out to luncheon. Thatwas the first day. The second day telegrams began to come in from thecoast-townssaying that the Prince Kalonay and Father Paul were preaching andexciting the people to rebellionand travelling from town to town in aman-of-war. Then he was frightened. The Prince with his popularity in the southwas alarming enoughbut the Prince and Father Superior to help him seemed tomean the end of the Republic.
"I learned while I was down there that the people think the father putsome sort of a ban on every one who had anything to do with driving theDominican monks out of the island and with the destruction of the monasteries. Idon't know whether he did or notbut they believe he didwhich is the samethingand that superstitious little beastthe Presidentcertainly believedit; he attributed everything that had gone wrong on the island to that cause.Whyif a second cousin of the wife of a brother of one of the men who helped tofire a church falls off his horse and breaks his leg they say that he is underthe curse of the Father Superiorand there are many who believe the Republicwill never succeed until Paul returns and the Church is re-established. TheGovernment seems to have kept itself well informed about your Majesty'smovementsand it has never felt any anxiety that you would attempt to returnand it did not fear the Church party because it knew that without you thepriests could do nothing. But when Paulwhom the common people look upon as aliving saint and martyrreturned hand in hand with your man Fridaythey werein a panic and felt sure the end had come. So the President called a hastymeeting of his Cabinet. And such a Cabinet! I wish you could have seen themLouis
with me in the centre playing on them like an advocate before a jury. They werethe most dreadful men I ever metbourgeois and stupid and ugly to a degree. Twoof them were commission-merchantsand one of them is old Dr. Gustavanniwhokept the chemist's shop in the Piazza Royale. They were quite silly with fearand they begged me to tell them how they could avert the fall of the Republicand prevent your landing. And I said that it was entirely a question of money;that if we were paid sufficiently the expedition would not land and we wouldleave them in peacebut that -- -- "
The King shifted his legs uneasilyand coughed behind his thinpinkfingers.
"That was rather indiscreetwas it notMarie?" he murmured."The idea was to make them think that Iat leastwas sincere; was notthat it? To make it appear that though there were traitors in his campthe Kingwas in most desperate earnest? If they believe thatyou seeit will allow meto raise another expedition as soon as the money we get for this one is gone;but if you have let them know that I am the one who is selling outyou havekilled the goose that lays the golden eggs. They will never believe us when wecry wolf again -- -- "
"You must let me finish" Zara interrupted. "I did not involveyou in the least. I said that there were traitors in the camp of whom I was theenvoyand that if they would pay us 300000 francs we would promise to allowthe expedition only to leave the yacht. Their troops could then make a show ofattacking our landing-party and we would raise the cry of `treachery' andretreat to the boats. By this we would accomplish two things-- we wouldsatisfy those whohad contributed funds toward the expedition that we had atleast made an honest effortand your Majesty would be discouraged by suchtreachery from ever attempting another attack. The money was to be paid twoweeks later in Paristo me or to whoever brings this ring that I wear. The planwe finally agreed upon is this: The yacht is to anchor off Basnai next Thursdaynight. At high tidewhich is just about daybreakwe are to lower our boats andland our men on that long beach to the south of the break-water. The troops ofthe Republic are to lie hidden in the rocks until our men have formed. Then theyare to fire over their headsand we are to retreat in great confusionreturnto the yachtand sail away. Two weeks later they are to pay the money into myhandsor" she addedwith a smileas she held up her fourth finger"to whoever
brings this ring. And I need not say that the ring will not leave myfinger."
There was a moment's pauseas though the men were waiting to learn if shehad more to telland then the King threw back his head and laughed softly. Hesaw Erhaupt's face above his shoulderfilled with the amazement and indignationof a man who as a duellist and as a soldier had shown a certain brute courageand the King laughed again.
"What do you think of thatColonel?" he criedgayly. "Theyare a noble racemy late subjects."
"Bah!" exclaimed the German. "I didn't know we were dealingwith a home for old women."
The Baron laughed comfortably. "It is like taking money from a blindbeggar's hat" he said.
Whywith two hundred men that I could pick up in London" Erhauptdeclaredcontemptuously"I would guarantee to put you on the throne in afortnight."
"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed his Majesty. "So they surrenderedas quickly as thatdid they?" he askednodding toward Madame Zara tocontinue.
The Countess glanced again over her shoulder and bit her lips in somechagrin. Her eyes showed her disappointment. "It may seem an easy victoryto you" she saidconsciously"but I doubtknowing all thecircumstancesif any of your Majesty's
gentlemen could have served you as well. It needed a woman and -- -- "
"It needed a beautiful woman" interrupted the Kingquicklyin atone that he would have used to a spoiled child. "It needed a woman oftacta woman of couragea woman among women -- the Countess Zara. Do notimagineMariethat we undervalue your part. It is their lack of courage thatdistresses Colonel Erhaupt."
"One of themit is truedid wish to fight" the Countesscontinuedwith a smile; "a Frenchman named Renauldwhom they have put incharge of the army. He scoffed at the whole expeditionbut they told him that aforeigner could not understand as they did the danger of the popularity of thePrince Kolonaywhoby a speech or two among the shepherds and fishermencouldraise an army.
The King snapped his fingers impatiently.
"An army of brigands and smugglers!" he exclaimed. "That forhis popularity!" But he instantly raised his hands as though in protest athis own warmth of speech and in apology for his outbreak.
"His zeal will ruin us in time. He is deucedly in the way" hecontinuedin his usual tone of easy cynicism. "We should have let him intoour plans
from the firstand then if he chose to take no part in them we would at leasthave had a free hand. As it is nowwe have three different people to deceive:this Cabinet of shopkeeperswhich seems easy enough; Father Paul and hisfanatics of the Church party; and this apostle of the divine right of kingsKalonay. And he and the good father are not fools -- -- "
At these words Madame Zara glanced again toward the gardenand this timewith such evident uneasiness in her face that Barrat eyed her with quicksuspicion.
"What is it?" he askedsharply. "There is something you havenot told us."
The woman looked at the Kingand he nodded his head as though in assent."I had to tell them who else was in the plot besides myself" shesaidspeaking rapidly. "I had to give them the name of some man who theyknew would be able to do what I have promised we could do -- who could put astop to the revolution. The name I gave was his -- Kalonay's."
Barrat threw himself forward in his chair.
"Kalonay's?" he criedincredulously.
"Kalonay's?" echoed Erhaupt. "What madnessMadame! Why namethe only one who is sincere?"
"She will explain" said the Kingin an uneasy voice; "lether explain. She has acted according to my orders and for the bestbut Iconfess I -- -- "
"Some one had to be sacrificed" returned the womanboldly"and why not he? Indeedif we wish to save ourselvesthere is everyreason that it should be he. You know how mad he is for the King's returnhowhe himself wishes to get back to the island and to his old position there. WhyGod only knowsbut it is so. What pleasure he finds in a land of mists andfogsin a ruined castle with poachers and smuggling fishermen for companionsIcannot comprehend. But the fact remainshe always speaks of it as home and hewishes to return. And nowsuppose he learns the truthas he may at any momentand discovers that the whole expedition for which he is staking his soul andlife is a tricka farce; that we use it only as a bait to draw money from theold nobilityand to frighten the Republic into paying us to leave them inpeace? How do we know what he might not do? He may tell the whole of Europe. Hemay turn on you and expose youand then what have we left? It is your lastchance. It is our last chance. We have tried everything elseand we cannot showourselves in Europeat least not without money in our hands. But by namingKalonay
I have managed it so that we have only to show the written agreement I have madewith the Republic and he is silenced. In it they have promised to pay the PrinceKalonaynaming him in full300000 francs if the expedition is withdrawn. Thatagreement is in my handsand that is our answer to whatever he may think orsay. Our word is as good as hisor as bad; we are all of the same party as faras Europe caresand it becomes a falling out among thievesand we areequal."
Baron Barrat leaned forward and marked each word with a movement of his hand.
"Do I understand you to say" he asked"that you have a papersigned by the Republic agreeing to pay 300000 francs to Kalonay? Then how arewe to get it?" he demandedincredulously. "From him?"
"It is made payable to him" continued the woman"or towhoever brings this ring I wear to the banking-house of the Schlevingens twoweeks after the expedition has left the island. I explained that clause to themby saying that Kalonay and I were working together against the Kingand as hemight be suspicious if we were both to leave him so soon after the failure ofthe expedition we would be satisfied if they gave the money to whichever onefirst presented the ring. Suppose
I had said" she went onturning to the King"that it was eitherBarrat or the Colonel here who had turned traitor. They know the Baron of oldwhen he was Chamberlain and ran your roulette wheel at the palace. They know heis not the man to turn back an expedition. And the Colonelif he will pardonmehas sold his services so often to one side or another that it would havebeen difficult to make them believe that this time he is sincere. But Kalonaythe man they fear most next to your Majesty -- to have him turn traitorwhythat was a master stroke. Even those boorsstupid as they aresaw that. Whenthey made out the agreement they put down all his titlesand laughed as theywrote them in. `Prince Judas' they called himand they were in ecstasies at theidea of the aristocrat suing for blood-money against his sovereignof the manthey feared showing himself to be only a common blackmailer. It delighted themto find a prince royal sunk lower than themselvesthis man who has treated themlike curs -- like the curs they are" she broke out suddenly -- "likethe curs they are!"
She rose and laughed uneasily as though at her own vehemence.
"I am tired" she saidavoiding the King's eyes; "the triphas tired me. If you will excuse meI
will go to my rooms -- through your hall-wayif I may."
"Most certainly" said the King. "I trust you will be restedby dinner-time. Au revoirmy fair ambassadrice."
The woman nodded and smiled back at him brightlyand Louis continued to lookafter her as she disappeared down the corridor. He rubbed the back of hisfingers across his lipsand thoughtfully examined his finger-nails.
"I wonder" he saidafter a pauselooking up at Barrat. The Baronraised his eyebrows with a glance of polite interrogation.
"I wonder if Kalonay dared to make love to her on the way down."
The Baron's face became as expressionless as a death-maskand he shruggedhis shoulders in protest.
" -- Or did she make love to Kalonay?" the King insistedlaughinggently. "I wonder now. I do not care to knowbut I wonder."
According to tradition the Kalonay family was an older one than that of theHouse of Artoisand its name had always been the one next in importance to thatof the reigning house. The history of Messina showed that different members ofthe Kalonay family had fought and died for different
kings of Artoisand had enjoyed their favor and shared their reverses withequal dignityand that they had stood like a rampart when the kingdom wasinvaded by the levelling doctrines of Republicanism and equality. And though theKalonays were men of stouter stuff than their cousins of Artoisthey had nevertried to usurp their placebut had set an example to the humblest shepherd ofunfailing loyalty and good-will to the King and his lady. The Prince Kalonaywho had accompanied the Dominican monk to Messinawas the last of his raceandwhen Louis IV. had been driven off the islandhe had followed his sovereigninto exile as a matter of courseand with his customary good-humor. Hisestatesin consequence of this stephad been taken up by the RepublicandKalonay had accepted the loss philosophically as the price one pays for loving aking. He found exile easy to bear in Parisand especially so as he had neverrelinquished the idea that some day the King would return to his own again. Sofirmly did he believe in thisand so keenly was his heart set upon itthatLouis had never dared to let him know that for himself exile in Paris and theRiviera was vastly to be preferred to authority over a rocky island hung withfogsand inhabited by dull merchants and fierce banditti.
The conduct of the King during their residence in Paris would have tried theloyalty of one less gay and careless than Kalonayfor he was a sorry monarchand if the principle that "the King can do no wrong" had not been bredin the young Prince's mindhe would have deserted his sovereign in the earlydays of their exile. But as it washe made excuses for him to others and tohimselfand served the King's idle purposes so well that he gained for himselfthe name of the King's jackaland there were some who regarded him as littlebetter than the King's confidential blackguardand man Fridaythe weakest ifthe most charming of his court of adventurers.
At the first hint which the King gave of his desire to place himself again inpowerKalonay had ceased to be his Jackal and would have issued forth as acommander-in-chiefhad the King permitted him; but it was not to Louis'spurpose that the Prince should know the real object of the expeditionso heassigned its preparation to Erhauptand despatched Kalonay to the south of theisland. At the same time Madame Zara had been sent to the north of the islandostensibly to sound the sentiment of the old nobilitybut in reality to makecapital out of the presence there of Kalonay and Father Paul.
The King rose hurriedly when the slim figure of the Prince and the broadshoulders and tonsured head of the monk appeared at the farthest end of thegarden-walk.
"They are coming!" he criedwith a guilty chuckle; "so Ishall run away and finish dressing. I leave you to receive the first shock ofKalonay's enthusiasm alone. I confess he bores me. Rememberthe story MadameZara told them in the yacht is the one she told us this morningthat none ofthe old royalists at the capital would promise us any assistance. Be carefulnowand play your parts prettily. We are all terribly in earnest."
Kalonay's enthusiasm had not spent itself entirely before the King returned.He had still a number of amusing stories to telland he reviewed the adventuresof the monk and himself with such vivacity and humor that the King nodded hishead in delightand even the priest smiled indulgently at the recollection.
Kalonay had seated himself on one of the tableswith his feet on a chair andwith a cigarette burning between his fingers. He was a handsomedark young manof thirtywith the impulsive manner of a boy. Dissipation had left no trace onhis faceand his eyes were as innocent of evil and as beautiful
as a girl'sand as eloquent as his tongue. "May the Maria Santissima pitythe girls they look upon" his old Spanish nurse used to say of them. ButKalonay had shown pity for every one save himself. His training at an Englishpublic schooland later as a soldier in the Ecole Polytechnique at Parishadsaved him from a too early falland men liked him instinctivelyand the womenmuch too well.
"It was good to be back there again" he criedwith a happy sigh."It was good to see the clouds following each other across the oldmountains and throwing black shadows on the campagnaand to hear the people'spatois and to taste Messinian wine again and to know it was from your ownhillside. All our old keepers came down to the coast to meet usand told meabout the stag-hunt the week beforeand who was marriedand who was in jailand who had been hanged for shooting a customs officerand they promised finedeer stalking if I get back before the snow leaves the ridgesfor they say thedeer have not been hunted and are running wild." He stopped and laughed."I forgot" he said"your Majesty does not care for the rudepleasures of my half of the island." Kalonay threw away his cigaretteclasping his hands before him with a sudden change of manner.
"But seriously" he cried"as I have been telling them -- Iwish your Majesty could have heard the offers they made usand could have seenthe tears running down their faces when we assured them that you would return. Iwished a thousand times that we had brought you with us. With you at our head wecan sweep the island from one end to the other. We will gather strength andforce as we goas a landslide growsand when we reach the capital we willstrike it like a human avalanche.
"And I wish you could have heard him speak" Kalonay criedhisenthusiasm rising as he turned and pointed with his hand at the priest."There is the leader! He made my blood turn hot with his speechesand whenhe had finished I used to find myself standing on my tiptoes and shouting withthe rest. Without him I could have done nothing. They knew me too well; but thelaziest rascals in the village came to welcome him againand the women and menwept before him and brought their children to be blessedand fell on theirknees and kissed his sandals. It was like the stories they tell you when you area child. He made us sob with regret and he filled us with fresh resolves. Ohitis very well for you to smileyou old cynics" he
criedsmiling at his own fervor"but I tell youI have lived since I sawyou last!"
The priest stood silent with his hands hidden inside his great sleevesandhis head rising erect and rigid from his cowl. The eyes of the men were turnedupon him curiouslyand he glanced from one to the otheras though mistrustingtheir sympathy.
"It was not me -- it was the Church they came to welcome. Thefools" he cried bitterly"they thought they could destroy the faithof the people by banishing the servants of the Church. As soon end a mother'slove for her children by putting an ocean between them. For six years thosepeasants have been true. I left them faithfulI returned to find them faithful.And now -- " he concludedlooking steadily at the King as though to holdhim to account"and now they are to have their reward."
The King bowed his head gravely in assent. "They are to have theirreward" he repeated. He rose and with a wave of his hand invited thepriest to follow himand they walked together to the other end of the terrace.When they were out of hearing of the others the King seated himselfand thepriest halted beside his chair.
"I wish to speak with youfather" Louis said
"concerning this young American girlMiss Carsonwho has promised to helpus -- to help you -- with her money. Has she said yet how much she means to giveus" asked the King"and when she means to let us have it? It is adelicate matterand I do not wish to urge the ladybut we are really greatlyin need of money. Baron Barratwho arrived from Paris this morningbrings backno substantial aidalthough the sympathy of the old nobilityhe assures meiswith us. Sympathyhoweverdoes not purchase Maxim gunsnor pay for rationsand Madame Zara's visit to the capital wasas you knoweven lesssuccessful."
"Your Majesty has seen Miss Carsonthen?" the priest asked.
"Yesher mother and she have been staying at the Continental ever sincethey followed you here from Parisand I have seen her once or twice during yourabsence. The young lady seems an earnest daughter of our faithand she isdeeply in sympathy with our effort to re-establish your order and the influenceof the Church upon the island. I have explained to her that the only way inwhich the Church can regain her footing there is through my return to thethroneand Miss Carson has hinted that she is willing to make even a largercontribution than the one she first mentioned. If
she means to do thisit would be well if she did it at once."
"Perhaps I have misunderstood her" said the priestafter amoment's consideration; "but I thought the sum she meant to contribute wasto be given only after the monarchy has been formally establishedand that shewished whatever she gave to be used exclusively in rebuilding the churches andthe monastery. I do not grudge it to your Majesty's purposebut so I understoodher."
"Ahthat is quite possible" returned Louiseasily; "it maybe that she did so intend at firstbut since I have talked with her she hasshown a willing disposition to aid us not only laterbut now. My success meansyour success" he continuedsmiling pleasantly as he rose to his feet"so I trust you will urge her to be prompt. She seems to have unlimitedresources in her own right. Do you happen to know from whence her moneycomes?"
"Her mother told me" said the priest"that Mr. Carson beforehis death owned mines and railroads. They live in Californianear the Missionof Saint Francis. I have written concerning them to the Father Superior thereand he tells me that Mr. Carson died a very rich manand that he was a generousservant of the Church. His daughter
The Monk Continued to Gaze Steadily at the Blue Waters.
has but just inherited her father's fortuneand her one idea of using it is togive it to the Churchas he would have done."
The priest paused and seemed to consider what the King had just told him."I will speak with her" he said"and ask her aid as fully asshe can give it. May I inquire how far your Majesty has taken her into ourplans?"
"Miss Carson is fully informed" the King replied briefly."And if you wish to speak with her you can see her now; she and her motherare coming to breakfast with me to hear the account of your visit to the island.You can speak with her then -- andfather" the King addedlowering hiseyes and fingering the loose sleeve of the priest's robe"it would bewellI thinkto have this presentation of the young nobles immediately afterthe luncheonwhile Miss Carson is still present. We might even make a littleceremony of itand so show her that she is fully in our confidence -- that sheis one of our most valued supporters. It might perhaps quicken her interest inthe cause."
"I see no reason why that should not be" said the priestthoughtfullyturning his eyes to the sea below them. "Madame Zara"he addedwithout moving his eyes"will not be present."
The King straightened himself slightlyand for a brief moment of time lookedat the priest in silencebut the monk continued to gaze steadily at the bluewaters.
"Madame Zara will not be present" the King repeatedcoldly.
"There are a few fishermen and mountaineersyour Majesty" thepriest continuedturning an unconscious countenance to the King"who cameback with us from the island. They come as a deputation to inform your Majestyof the welcome that waits youand I have promised them an audience. If you willpardon me I would suggest that you receive these honest people at the same timewith the othersand that his Highness the Crown Prince be also presentandthat he receive them with you. Their anxiety to see him is only second to theirdesire to speak to your Majesty. You will find some of your most loyal subjectsamong these men. Their forefathers have been faithful to your house and to theChurch for many generations."
"Excellent" said the King; "I shall receive them immediatelyafter the deputation from Paris. Consult with Baron Barrat and Kalonaypleaseabout the details. I wish either Kalonay or yourself to make the presentation. Isee Miss Carson and
her mother coming. After luncheonthenatsaythree o'clock -- will that besatisfactory?"
"As your Majesty pleases" the priest answeredand with a bow hestrode across the terrace to where Kalonay stood watching them.
Mrs. Carson and her daughter came from the hotel to theterrace through the hallway which divided the King's apartments. Baron Barratpreceded them and they followed in single fileMiss Carson walking first. Itwas a position her mother always forced upon herand after people grew to knowthem they accepted it as illustrating Mrs. Carson's confidence in her daughter'sability to care for herselfas well as her own wish to remain in thebackground.
Patricia Carsonas she was named after her patron saintor"Patty" Carsonas she was called more frequentlywas an exceedinglypretty girl. She was tall and fairwith a smile that showed such confidence ineveryone she met that few could find the courage to undeceive her by beingthemselvesand it was easierin the face of such an appeal as her eyes made tothe best in every onefor each to act a part while he was with her. She wasyoungimpressionableand absolutely inexperienced. As a little girl she hadlived on a great ranchwhere she could gallop from sunrise to sunset
over her own prairie landand later her life had been spent in a conventoutside of Paris. She had but two great emotionsher love for her father andfor the Church which had nursed her. Her father's death had sanctified him andgiven him a place in her heart that her mother could not holdand when shefound herself at twenty-one the mistress of a great fortuneher one idea as tothe disposal of it was to do with it what would best please him and the Churchwhich had been the ruling power in the life of both of them. She was quiteunconscious of her beautyand her mode of speaking was simple and eager.
She halted as she came near the Kingand resting her two hands on the top ofher lace parasolnodded pleasantly to him and to the others. She neithercourtesied nor offered him her handbut seemed to prefer this middle courseleaving them to decide whether she acted as she did from ignorance or fromchoice.
As the King stepped forward to greet her motherMiss Carson passed him andmoved on to where the Father Superior stood apart from the otherstalkingearnestly with the Prince. What he was saying was of an unwelcome natureforKalonay's face wore an expression of boredom and polite protest which changedinstantly to one of
delight when he saw Miss Carson. The girl hesitated and made a deep obeisance tothe priest.
"I am afraid I interrupt you" she said.
"Not at all" Kalonay assured herlaughing. "It is a mostwelcome interruption. The good father has been finding fault with meas usualand I am quite willing to change the subject."
The priest smiled kindly on the girland while he exchanged some words ofwelcome with herKalonay brought up one of the huge wicker chairsand sheseated herself with her back to the othersfacing the two menwho stoodleaning against the broad balustrade. They had been fellow-conspiratorssufficiently long for them to have grown to know each other welland thepriestso far from regarding her as an intruderhailed her at once as aprobable allyand endeavored to begin again where he had ceased speaking.
"Do you not agree with meMiss Carson?" he asked. "I amtelling the Prince that zeal is not enoughand that high idealsunless theyare accompanied by good conductare futile. I want him to changeto be moresobermore strict -- -- "
"Ohyou must not ask me" Miss Carson saidhurriedlysmiling andshaking her head. "We are working for only one thingare we not? Beyondthat you know nothing of meand I know
nothing of you. I came to hear of your visit" she continued; "am I tobe told anything?" she askedeagerlylooking from one to the other."It has been such an anxious two weeks. We imagined all manner of thingshad happened to you."
Kalonay laughed happily. "The Father was probably never safer in hislife" he said. "They took us to their hearts like brothers. Theymight have suffocated us with kindnessbut we were in no other danger."
"Then you are encouragedFather?" she askedturning to thepriest. "You found them loyal? Your visit was all you hopedyou can dependupon them?"
"We can count upon them absolutely" the monk assured her. "Weshall start on our return voyage at oncein a dayas soon as his Majesty givesthe word."
"There are so many things I want to know" the girl said; "butI have no right to ask" she addedlooking up at him doubtfully.
"You have every right" the monk answered. "You have certainlyearned it. Without the help you gave us we could not have moved. You have beenmore than generous -- -- "
Miss Carson interrupted him with an impatient lifting of her head. "Thatsort of generosity is
nothing" she said. "With you men it is different. You are all riskingsomething. You are actually helpingwhile I must sit still and wait. I hopeFather" she saidsmiling"it is not wrong for me to wish I were aman."
"Wrong!" exclaimed Kalonayin a tone of mock dismay; "ofcourse it's wrong. It's wicked."
The monk turned and looked coldly over his shoulder at Kalonayand thePrince laughed.
"I beg your pardon" he said"but we are told to be contentedwith our lot" he arguedimpenitently. "`He only is a slave whocomplains' and that is true even if a heretic did say it."
The monk shook his head and turned again to Miss Carson with a tolerantsmile.
"He is very young" he saidas though Kalonay did not hear him"and wild and foolish -- and yet" he addeddoubtfully"I findI love the boy." He regarded the young man with a kind but impersonalscrutinyas though he were a picture or a statue. "Sometimes I imagine heis all I might have been" he said"had not God given me the strengthto overcome myself. He has never denied himself in anything; he is as wilful andcapricious as a girl. He makes a noble friendMiss Carsonand a generousenemy; but he is spoiled irretrievably by good fortune and good living and
good health." The priest looked at the young man with a certain sadseverity. "`Unstable as waterthou shalt not excel'" he said.
The girlin great embarrassmentturned her head awayglancing from theocean to the sky; but Kalonay seated himself coolly on the broad balustrade ofthe terrace with his hands on his hipsand his heels resting on the marbletilingand clicked the soles of his boots together.
"OhI have had my bad daystooFather" he said. He turned hishead on one sideand pressed his lips togetherlooking down.
"Unstable as water -- that is quite possible" he saidwith an airof consideration; "but spoiled by good fortune -- ohnothat is not fair.Do you call it good fortunesir" he laughed"to be an exile attwenty-eight? Is it good fortune to be too poor to pay your debtsand too lazyto work; to be the last of a great nameand to have no chance to add to theglory of itand no means to keep its dignity fresh and secure? Do you fancy Ilike to see myself drifting farther and farther away from the old standards andthe old traditions; to have English brewers and German Jew bankers taking theplace I should havebuying titles with their earnings and snubbing me because Ican only hunt when someone gives me a mount
and because I choose to take a purse instead of a cup when we shoot at MonteCarlo?"
"What child's talk is this?" interrupted the priestangrily."A thousand horses cannot make a man noblenor was poverty ever ignoble.You talk like a weak boy. Every word you say is your own condemnation. Whyshould you complain? Your bed is of your own making. The other prodigal wasforced to herd with the swine -- you have chosen to herd with them."
The girl straightened herself and half rose from her chair.
"You are boring Miss Carson with my delinquencies" said thePrincesternly. His face was flushedand he did not look either at the girl orat the priest.
"But the prodigal's father?" said Miss Carsonsmiling at the olderman. "Did he stand over him and upbraid him? You rememberhe went to meethim when he was yet a great way off. That was itwas it notFather?"
"Of course he did" cried Kalonaylaughing like a boyandslipping lightly to the terrace. "He met him half way and gave him the besthe had." He stepped to Miss Carson's side and the two young people movedaway smilingand the priestseeing that they were about to escape himcried
eagerly"But that prodigal had repented. This one -- -- "
"Let's run" cried the Prince. "He will get the best of us ifwe stay. He always gets the best of me. He has been abusing me that way for twoweeks nowand he is always sorry afterward. Let us leave him alone to hissorrow and remorse."
Kalonay walked across the terrace with Miss Carsonbending above her withwhat would have seemed to an outsider almost a proprietary right. She did notappear to notice itbut looked at him frankly and listened to what he had tosay with interest. He was speaking rapidlyand as he spoke he glanced shyly ather as though seeking her approbationand not boldlyas he was accustomed todo when he talked with either men or women. To look at her with admiration wassuch a cheap form of appreciationand one so distasteful to herthat had heknown itKalonay's averted eyes were more of a compliment than any words hecould have spoken. His companions who had seen him with other women knew thathis manner to her was not his usual mannerand that he gave her something hedid not give to the others; that he was more discreet and less readyand lessat ease.
The Prince Kalonay had first met Miss Carson
and her mother by chance in Parisat the rooms of Father Paulwhere they hadeach gone on the same errandand since that meeting his whole manner toward thetwo worlds in which he lived had altered so strangely that mere acquaintancesnoticed the change.
Before he had met herthe little the priest had said concerning her and herzeal for their common desire had piqued his curiosityand his imagination hadbeen aroused by the picture of a romantic young woman giving her fortune to savethe souls of the people of Messina; his people whom he regarded and who regardedhim less as a feudal lord than as a father and a comrade. He had pictured her asa nervousangular woman with a paleascetic faceand with the restless eyesof an enthusiastdressed in black and badly dressedand with a severe andnarrow intelligence. But he had prepared himself to forgive her personalityforthe sake of the high and generous impulse that inspired her. And when he waspresented to her as she really wasand found her younglovableand noblyfairthe shock of wonder and delight had held him silent during the wholecourse of her interview with the priestand when she had left them his brainwas in a tumult and was filled with memories of her words and gesturesand ofthe
sweet fearlessness of her manner. Beautiful women he had known before asbeautiful womenbut the saving grace in his nature had never before been sodeeply roused by what was fine as well as beautiful. It seemed as though it weretoo complete and perfect. For he assured himself that she possessed everything-- those qualities which he had never valued before because he believed them tobe unattainableand those others which he had made his idols. She was with himmind and heart and soulin the one desire of his life that he took seriously;she was of his religionshe was more noble than his noble sistersand she wasmore beautiful than the day. In the first glow of the meeting it seemed to himas though fate had called them to do this work together-- she from the farshore of the Pacificand he from his rocky island in the Middle Sea. And he sawwith cruel distinctnessthat if there were one thing wantingit was himself.He worshipped her before he had bowed his first good-by to herand that nighthe walked for miles up and down the long lengths of the avenue of theChamps-Elyseesfacing the great change that she had brought into his lifebutknowing himself to be utterly unfit for her coming. He felt like an unworthysteward caught at his master's return unpreparedwith ungirt loinsand
unlighted lamp. Nothing he had done since he was a child gave him the right toconsider himself her equal. He was not blinded by the approaches which otherdaughters and the mothers of daughters had made him. He knew that what wasenough to excuse many things in their eyes might find no apology in hers. Helooked back with the awakening of a child at the irrevocable acts in his lifethat could not be altered nor dug up nor hidden away. They marked the road hehad trodden like heavy milestonestelling his story to every passer-by. Shecould read themas everyone else could read them. He had wasted his substancehe had bartered his birthright for a moment's pleasure; there was no one so lowand despicable who could not call him comradeto whom he had not given himselfwithout reserve. There was nothing leftand now the one thing he had everwanted had comeand had found him like a bankrupthis credit wasted and hiscoffers empty. He had placed himself at the beck and call of every idle man andwoman in Parisand he was as common as the great clock-face that hangs abovethe boulevards.
Miss Carson's feelings toward Kalonay were not of her own choosingand hadpassed through several stages. When they had first met she had
thought it most sad that so careless and unprincipled a person should chance tohold so important a part in the task she had set herself to do. She knew hisclass only by hearsaybut she placed him in itandaccordinglyat oncedismissed him as a person from her mind. Kalonay had never shown her that heloved herexcept by those signs which any woman can read and which no man canconceal; but he did not make love to herand it was that which firstprepossessed her in his favor. One or two other men who knew of her fortuneandto whom she had given as little encouragement as she had to Kalonayhad beenless considerate. But his attitude toward her was always that of a fellow-workerin the common cause. He treated her with a gratitude for the help she meant togive his people which much embarrassed her. His seriousness pleased her withhimseeingas she didthat it was not his nature to be seriousand hisenthusiasm and love for his half-civilized countrymen increased her interest inthemand her liking for him. She could not help but admire the way in which heacceptedwithout forcing her to make it any plainerthe fact that he held noplace in her thoughts. And then she found that he began to hold more of a placein her thoughts than she had supposed any man could hold of whom she
knew so littleand of whom the little she knew was so ill. She missed him whenshe went to the priest's and found that he had not sent for Kalonay to bear hispart in their councils; and at times she felt an unworthy wish to hear Kalonayspeak the very words she had admired him for keeping from her. And at last shelearned the truth that she did love himand it frightened herand made hermiserable and happy. They had not seen each other since he had left Paris forMessinaand though they spoke now only of his mission to the islandthere wasback of what they said the joy for each of them of being together again and offinding that it meant so much. What it might mean to the otherneither knew.
For some little time the King followed the two young people with his eyesand then joined themmaking signs to Kalonay that he wished him to leave themtogether; but Kalonay remained blind to his signalsand Barratseeing that itwas not a tete-a-tetejoined them also. When he did so Kalonay asked theKing for a wordand laying his hand upon his arm walked with him down theterracepointing ostensibly to where the yacht lay in the harbor. Louisanswered his pantomime with an appropriate gestureand then askedsharply"Wellwhat is it? Why did you bring
me here? And what do you mean by staying on when you see you are notwanted?"
They were some distance from the others. Kalonay smiled and made a slightbow. "Your Majesty" he beganwith polite emphasis. The King lookedat him curiously.
"In the old days under similar circumstances" the Princecontinuedwith the air of a courtier rather than that of an equal"had Ithought of forming an alliance by marriageI should have come to your Majestyfirst and asked your gracious approval. But those days are pastand we areliving at the end of the century; and we do such things differently." Hestraightened himself and returned the King's look of amused interest with one ascynical as his own. "What I wanted to tell youLouis" he saidquietly"is that I mean to ask Miss Carson to become the PrincessKalonay."
The King raised his head quickly and stared at the younger man with a look ofdistaste and surprise. He gave an incredulous laugh.
"Indeed?" he said at last. "There was always something aboutrich women you could never resist."
The Prince made his acknowledgment with a shrug of his shoulders and smiledindifferently.
"I didn't expect you to understand" he said. "It does seemodd; it's quite as difficult for me to understand as for you. I have beenthrough it a great many timesand I thought I knew all there was of it. But nowit seems different. Noit does not seem different" he corrected himself;"it is differentand I love the lady and I mean to ask her to do me thehonor to marry me. I didn't expect you to understandI don't care if you do. Ionly wanted to warn you."
"Warn me?" interrupted the Kingwith an unpleasant smile."Indeed! against what? Your tone is a trifle peremptory -- but you areinterestingmost interesting! Kalonay in a new roleKalonay in love! Mostinteresting! Warn me against what?" he repeated sharply.
"Your Majesty has a certain manner" the Prince beganwith apretence of hesitation"a charm of mannerI might saywhich isproverbial. It iswe knowattractive to women. Every woman acknowledges it.But your Majesty is sometimes too gracious. He permits himself to condescend tomany womento any womanto women of all classes -- -- "
"That will do" said the King; "what do you mean?"
"What I mean is this" said Kalonaylowering
his voice and looking into the King's half-closed eyes. "You can have allof Miss Carson's money you want -- all you can get. I don't want it. If I am to-- marry her at allI am not marrying her for her money. You can't believethat. It isn't essential that you should. But I want you to leave the woman Ihope to make my wife alone. I will allow no pretty speechesnor royalattentions. She can give her money where she pleasesnow and always; but I'llnot have her eyes opened to -- as you can open them. I will not have herannoyed. And if she is -- -- "
"Ahand if she is?" challenged the King. His eyes were wide apartnow and his lips were parted and drawn back from his teethlike a snarling cat-- --
"I shall hold whoever annoys her responsible" Kalonay concludedimpersonally.
There was a moment's pauseduring which the two men stood regarding eachother warily.
Then the King stiffened his shoulders and placed his hands slowly behind hisback. "That soundsmy dear Kalonay" he said"almost like athreat."
The younger man laughed insolently. "I meant ittooyourMajesty" he answeredbowing mockingly and backing away.
As the King's guests seated themselves at his breakfast-table Louis smiledupon them with a gracious glance of welcome and approval. His manner wascharmingly condescendingand in his appearance there was nothing more seriousthan an anxiety for their better entertainment and a certain animal satisfactionin the food upon his plate.
In reality his eyes were distributing the people at the table before him intoelements favorable or unfavorable to his plansand in his mind he shuffled themand their values for him or against him as a gambler arranges and rearranges thecards in his hand. He saw himself plainly as his own highest cardand Barratand Erhaupt as willing but mediocre accomplices. In Father Paul and Kalonay herecognized his most powerful allies or most dangerous foes. Miss Carson meantnothing to him but a source from which he could draw the sinews of war. Whatwould become of her after the farce was endedhe did not consider. He was notcapable of comprehending either her or her motivesand had he concerned himselfabout her at allhe would have probably thought that she was more of a foolthan the saint she pretended to beand that she had come to their assistancemore because she wished to be near a Prince and a King than because she caredfor the souls
"He Will Get the Best of Us if We Stay."
of sixty thousand peasants. That she would surely lose her moneyand couldhardly hope to escape from them without losing her good namedid not concernhim. It was not his duty to look after the reputation of any American heiresswho thought she could afford to be unconventional. She had a mother to do thatfor herand she was pretty enoughhe concludedto excuse many things-- sopretty that he wondered if he might brave the Countess Zara and offer MissCarson the attentions to which Kalonay had made such arrogant objections. TheKing smiled at the thoughtand let his little eyes fall for a moment on thetall figure of the girl with its crown of heavy golden hairand on her cleverearnest eyes. She was certainly worth waiting forand in the meanwhile she wasvirtually unprotected and surrounded by his own people. According to histranslation of her actsshe had already offered him every encouragementandhad placed herself in a position which to his understanding of the world couldhave but one interpretation. What Kalonay's sudden infatuation might mean hecould not foresee; whether it promised good or threatened evilhe could onlyguessbut he decided that the young man's unwonted show of independence of themorning must be punished. His claim to exclusive
proprietorship in the young girl struck the King as amusingbut impertinent. Itwould be easy sailing in spite of allhe decided; for somewhere up above themin the hotel sat the unbidden guestthe woman against whom Father Paul hadraised the ban of expulsionbut who hadneverthelesstricked both him and thefaithful Jackal.
The breakfast was drawing to an end and the faithful Niccolas was the onlyservant remaining in the room. The talk had grown intimate and touched openlyupon the successful visit of the two ambassadors to the islandand of Barrat'smission to Paris. Of Madame Zara's visit to the northern half of the islandwhich was supposed to have been less successfulno mention was made.
Louis felt as he listened to them like a man at a playwho knows that at aword from him the complications would ceaseand that were he to rise in thestalls and explain them awayand point out the real hero and denounce thevillainthe curtain would have to ring down on the instant. He gave a littlepurr of satisfactionand again marshalled his chances before him and smiled tofind them good. He was grandly at peace with himself and with the world.Whatever happenedhe was already richer by some 300000 francsand in a dayif he could keep the American girl to her
promisewould be as rich again. When the farce of landing his expedition hadbeen played he would be free-- free to return to his clubs and to hisboulevards and boudoirswith money enough to silence the most insolent amonghis creditorsand with renewed credit; with even a certain glamour about him ofone who had dared to doeven though he had failed in the doingwho had shakenoff the slothfulness of ease and had chosen to risk his life for his throne witha smoking rifle in his handuntil a traitor had turned fortune against him.
The King was amused to find that this prospect pleased him vastly. He wassurprised to discover thatcareless as he thought himself to be to publicopinionhe was still capable of caring for its approbation; but he consoledhimself for this weakness by arguing that it was only because the approbationwould be his by a trick that it pleased him to think of. Perhaps some of hisroyal cousinsin the light of his bold intentmight take him under theirprotection instead of neglecting him shamefullyas they had done in the past.His armed expedition might open certain doors to him; his name -- and he smiledgrimly as he imagined it -- would ring throughout Europe as the Soldier Kingasthe modern disciple of the divine right of
kings. He sawin his mind's eyeeven the possibility of a royal alliance and apension from one of the great Powers. No matter where he looked he could seenothing but gain to himselfmore power for pleasuremore chances of greaterfortune in the futureand while his lips assented to what the others saidandhis eyes thanked them for some expression of loyalty or confidencehe sawhimself in dreams as bright as an absinthe drinker'sback in his beloved Paris:in the Champs-Elysees behind fine horseslolling from a silk box at the operadealing baccarat at the jockey Clubor playing host to some beautiful woman ofthe hourin the new home he would establish for her in the discreet and leafyborders of the Bois.
He had forgotten his guests and the moment. He had forgotten that there weredifficulties yet to overcomeand with a shortindrawn sigh of pleasurehethrew back his head and smiled arrogantly upon the sunny terrace and the greenpalms and the brilliant blue seaas though he challenged the whole beautifulworld before him to do aught but minister to his success and contribute to hispleasures.
And at onceas though in answer to his challengea tallslim young mansprang lightly up the
steps of the terracepassed the bewildered guards with a cheery nodandstriding before the open windowsknocked with his fist upon the portals of thedooras sharply and as confidently as though the King's shield had hung thereand he had struck it with a lance.
The King's dream shattered and faded away at the soundand he moved uneasilyin his chair. He had the gambler's superstitious regard for triflesand thisinvasion of his privacy by a confident stranger filled him with sudden disquiet.
He saw Kalonay staring at the open windows with an expression of astonishmentand dismay.
"Who is it?" the King askedpeevishly. "What are you staringat? How did he get in?"
Kalonay turned on Barratsitting at his right. "Did you see him?"he asked. Barrat nodded gloomily.
"The devil!" exclaimed the Princeas though Barrat had confirmedhis guess. "I beg your pardon" he saidnodding his head toward thewomen. He pushed back his chair and stood irresolutely with his napkin in hishand. "Tell him we are not inNiccolas" he commanded.
"He saw us as he passed the window" the Baron objected.
"Say we are at breakfast then. I will see him
myself in a moment. What shall I tell him?" he askedturning to Barrat."Do you think he knows? He must knowthey have told him in Paris."
"You are keeping us waiting" said the King. "What is it? Whois this man?"
"An American named Gordon. He is a correspondent" Kalonayansweredwithout turning his head. His eyes were still fixed on the terrace asthough he had seen a ghost.
The King slapped his hand on the arm of the chair. "You promisedme" he said"that we should be free from that sort of thing. That iswhy I agreed to come here instead of going to Algiers. Go outBarratand sendhim away."
Barrat pressed his lips together and shook his head.
"You can't send him away like that" he said. "He is a veryimportant young man."
"Find out how much he will takethen" exclaimed the Kingangrily"and give it to him. I can better afford to pay blackmail to anyamount than have my plans spoiled now by the newspapers. Give him what he wants-- a fur coat -- they always wear fur coats -- or five thousand francsorsomething -- anything -- but get rid of him."
Barrat stirred uneasily in his chair and shrugged
his shoulders. "He is not a boulevard journalist" he repliedsulkily.
"Your Majesty is thinking of the Hungarian Jews at Vienna"explained Kalonay"who live on chantage and the Monte Carlopropaganda fund. This man is not in their class; he is not to be bought. I saidhe was an American."
"An American!" exclaimed Mrs. Carson and her daughterexchangingrapid glances. "Is it Archie Gordon you mean?" the girl asked. "Ithought he was in China."
"That is the man -- Archie Gordon. He writes books and exploresplaces" Kalonay answered.
"I know him. He wrote a book on the slave trade in the Congo"contributed Colonel Erhaupt. "I met him at Zanzibar. What does he want withus?"
"He was in Yokohama when the Japanese-Chinese war broke out" saidKalonayturning to the King"and he cabled a London paper he would followthe war for it if they paid him a hundred a week. He meant American dollarsbutthey thought he meant poundsso they cabled back that they'd pay one-half thatsum. He answered`One hundred or nothing' and they finally assented to thatand he started; and when the first week's remittance arrivedand he receivedfive hundred dollars
instead of the one hundred he expectedhe sent back the difference."
"What a remarkable young man!" exclaimed the King. "He is muchtoo good for daily wear. We don't want anyone like that around heredowe?"
"I know Mr. Gordon very well" said Miss Carson. "He lived inSan Francisco before he came East. He was always at our houseand was a greatfriend of the family; wasn't hemother? We haven't seen him for two years nowbut I know he wouldn't spoil our plans for the sake of his paperif he knew wewere in earnestif he understood that everything depended upon its being kept asecret."
"We are not certain that he knows anything" the King urged."He may not have come here to see us. I think Father Paul should talk withhim first."
"I was going to suggest" said Miss Carsonwith some hesitation"that if I spoke to him I might be able to put it to him in such a way thathe would see how necessary it -- -- "
"Ohexcellent!" exclaimed the Kingeagerlyand rising to hisfeet; "if you only would be so kindMiss Carson."
Kalonaymisunderstanding the situation altogether
fastened his eyes upon the table and did not speak.
"He has not come to see youPatricia" said Mrs. Carsonquietly.
"He does not know that I am here" Miss Carson answered; "butI'm sure if he did he would be very glad to see us again. And if we do see himwe can make him promise not to do anything that might interfere with our plans.Won't you let me speak to himmother?"
Mrs. Carson turned uncertainly to the priest for directionand his glanceapparently reassured herfor she rosethough still with a troubledcountenanceand the two women left the room togetherthe men standingregarding each other anxiously across the table. When they had gone the King lita cigarette andturning his back on his companionspuffed at it nervously insilence. Kalonay sat moodily studying the pattern on the plate before himandthe others whispered together at the farther end of the table.
When Miss Carson and her mother stepped out upon the terracethe Americanwas standing with his back toward them and was speaking to the guards who satcross-legged at the top of the steps. They showed no sign of surprise at thefact of his addressing them in their own tongue further than
that they answered him with a show of respect which they had not exhibitedtoward those they protected. The American turned as he heard the footstepsbehind himandafter a startled look of astonishmenthurried toward the twowomenexclaimingwith every expression of pleasure.
"I had no idea you were stopping here" he saidafter the firstgreetings were over. "I thought you were somewhere on the Continent. I amso glad I caught you. It seems centuries since I saw you last. You're lookingvery wellMrs. Carson -- and as for Patty -- I am almost afraid of her -- I'vebeen hearing all sorts of things about you latelyPatty" he went onturning a smiling countenance toward the girl. "About your engagements toprinces and dukes -- all sorts of disturbing rumors. What a terrible swellyou've grown to be. I hardly recognize you at allMrs. Carson. It isn'tpossible this is the same young girl I used to take buggy riding on Sundayevenings?"
"Indeedit is not. I wish it were" said Mrs. Carsonplaintivelysinking into a chair. "I'm glad to see you're not changedArchie"she addedwith a sigh.
"Whyhe's very much changedmother" the girl said. "He'stallerandin comparison with what he washe's almost wasted awayand sosunburned
I hardly knew him. Except round the forehead" she addedmockingly"and I suppose the sun couldn't burn there because of the laurel-wreaths. Ihear they bring them to you fresh every morning."
"They're better than coronetsat any rate" Gordon answeredwitha nod. "They're not so common. And if I'm wasted awaycan you wonder? Howlong has it been since I saw youPatty?"
"NoI'm wronghe's not changed" Miss Carson said drylyas sheseated herself beside her mother.
"How do you two come to be stopping here?" the young man asked."I thought this hotel had been turned over to King Louis?"
"It has" Mrs. Carson answered. "We are staying at theContinentalon the hill there. We are only here for breakfast. He asked us tobreakfast."
"He?" repeated Gordonwith an incredulous smile. "Who? Notthe King -- not that blackguard?"
Miss Carson raised her headand stared at him in silenceand her mothergave a little gaspapparently of relief and satisfaction.
"Yes" Miss Carson answered at lastcoldly.
"We are breakfasting with him. What do you know against him?"
Gordon stared at her with such genuine astonishment that the girl lowered hereyesandbending forward in her chairtwirled her parasol nervously betweenher fingers.
"What do I know against him? WhyPatty!" he exclaimed. "Howdid you meet himin Heaven's name?" he askedroughly. "Have you beenseen with him? Have you known him long? Who had the impudence to presenthim?"
Mrs. Carson looked upnow thoroughly alarmed. Her lower lip was tremblingand she twisted her gloved hands together in her lap.
"What do you know against him?" Miss Carson repeatedmeetingGordon's look with one as full of surprise as his own.
The young man regarded her steadily for a few momentsand thenwith achange of manneras though he now saw the situation was much more serious thanhe had at first supposeddrew up a chair in front of the two women and seatedhimself deliberately.
"Has he borrowed any money from you yet?" he asked. Miss Carson'sface flushed crimson and she straightened her shoulders and turned her eyes awayfrom Gordon with every sign of indignation
and disapproval. The young man gave an exclamation of relief.
"No? That's good. You cannot have known him so very long. I am greatlyrelieved."
"Louis of Messina" he began more gently"is the mostunscrupulous rascal in Europe. Since they turned him out of his kingdom he haslived by selling his title to men who are promoting new brands of champagne orfloating queer mining shares. The greater part of his income is dependent on thegenerosity of the old nobility of Messinaand when they don't pay him readilyenoughhe levies blackmail on them. He owes money to every tailor andhorse-dealer and hotel-keeper in Europeand no one who can tell one card fromanother will play with him. That is his reputation. And to help him live up toit he has surrounded himself with a parcel of adventurers as rascally ashimself: a Colonel Erhaupt who was dropped from a German regimentand who is aColonel only by the favor of the Queen of Madagascar; a retired croupier namedBarrat; and a fallen angel called Kalonaya fellow of the very best blood inEurope and with the very worst morals. They call him the King's jackaland heis one of the most delightful blackguards I ever met. So is the King for thatmattera most entertaining
individual if you keep him in his placebut a man no woman can know. In factMrs. Carson" Gordon went onaddressing himself to the mother"whenyou have to say that a woman has absolutely no reputation whatever you can bestexpress it by explaining that she has a title from Louis of Messina. That is hisMajesty's way of treating his feminine friends when they bore him and he wantsto get rid of them. He gives them a title.
"The only thing the man ever did that was to his credit and that couldbe discussed in polite society is what he is doing now at this placeat thismoment. For it seems" Gordon whispereddrawing his chair closer"that he is about to show himself something of a man after alland that heis engaged in fitting out an armed expedition with which he hopes to recover hiskingdom. That's what brought me hereand I must say I rather admire him forattempting such a thing. Of courseit was Kalonay who put him up to it; hewould never have stirred from the boulevards if that young man had not made him.But he is hereneverthelesswaiting for a favorable opportunity to sailandhe has ten thousand rifles and three Maxim guns lying in his yacht out there inthe harbor. That's how I came to learn about it. I
was getting an estimate on an outfit I was thinking of taking into Yucatan frommy old gunsmith in the Rue Scribeand he dropped a hint that he had shipped tenthousand rifles to Tangierto Colonel Erhaupt. I have met Erhaupt in Zanzibarand knew he was the King's right-hand manso I put two and two together anddecided I would follow them upand -- -- "
"Yesand now" interrupted Miss Carsonsharply -- "and nowthat you have followed them upwhat do you mean to do?"
Gordon looked his surprise at her earnestnessbut answered that he did notknow what he would do; he thought he would either ask them to give him acommission in their expeditionand let him help them fightand write anaccount of their adventures lateror he would telegraph the story at once tohis paper. It was with himhe saidentirely a question as to which coursewould be of the greater news value. If he told what he now knewhis paper wouldbe the first of all others toinform the world of the expedition and theproposed revolution; while if he volunteered for the expedition and waited untilit had failed or succeededhe would be able to tell more eventuallybut wouldhave to share it with other correspondents.
Miss Carson regarded him with an expression in which indignation and entreatywere curiously blended.
"Archie" she saidin a low voice"you do not know what youare doing or saying. You are threatening to spoil the one thing in my life onwhich I have set my heart. The return of this man to his thronewhether he isworthy or notmeans the restoration of the Catholic Church on that island; itmeans the return of the monks and the rebuilding of the monasteriesand thesalvation of sixty thousand souls. I know all that they mean to do. I am the onewho paid for those rifles that brought you here; you have told me only what Ihave known for monthsand for which I have been earnestly working and praying.I am not blinded by these men. They are not the creatures you describe; but nomatter what they may beit is only through themand through them alonethat Ican do what I have set out to do."
Gordon silenced her with a sweep of his hand. "Do you mean to tellme" he demanded"that you are mixed up in this -- with these -- thatthey have taken money from youand told you they meant to use it tore-establish the Church? Mrs. Carson" he exclaimedbitterlyturning uponher"why have you allowed this -- what have you been
doing while this was going on? Do you suppose those scoundrels care for theChurch -- the Churchindeed! Wait until I see them -- any of them -- Erhaupt bychoiceand I'll make them give up every franc you've lent themor I'llhorsewhip and expose them for the gang of welshers and thimble-riggers they are;or if they prefer their own methodsI'll call them out in rotation and shoottheir arms and legs off." He stopped and drew a long breatheither ofcontent that he had discovered the situation in time to take some part in itorat the prospect of a fight.
"The idea of you two helpless females wandering into this den ofwolves!" he exclaimedindignantly. "It's about time you had a man tolook after you! You go back to your hotel nowand let me have a chat with Louisof Messina. He's kept me waiting some twenty minutes as it isand that's alittle longer than I can give him. I'm not a creditor." He rose from hischair; but Miss Carson put out her hand and motioned him to be seated.
"Archie" she said"I like the way you take thiseven thoughyou are all wrong about itbecause it's just like you to fly into a passion andwant to fight someone for somebody. If your conclusions were anywhere near thetruthyou would
The King's. jackal be acting very well. But they are not. The King is nothandling my moneynor the Prince Kalonay. It is in the keeping of Father Paulthe Father Superior of the Dominican monkswho is the only one of these peopleI know or who knows me. He is not a swindlertoois heor a retired croupier?Listen to me nowand do not fly out like that at meor at mother. It is nother fault. Last summer mother and I went to Messina as touristsand one daywhen passing through a seaport townwe saw a crowd of people on the shorestanding or kneeling by the hundreds in a great semicircle close to the water'sedge. There was a priest preaching to them from an open boat. It was like ascene from the New Testamentand the manthis Father Paulmade me think ofone of the disciples. I asked them why he did not preach on the landand theytold me that he and all of the priests had been banished from the island sixyears beforeand that they could only return by stealth and dared not landexcept by night. When the priest had finished speakingI had myself rowed outto his boatand I talked a long time with himand he told me of this plan tore-establish himself and his order. I offered to help him with my moneyand hepromised me a letter to Cardinal Napoli. It reached me on my return to Romeandthrough the influence
of the Cardinal I was given an audience with the Popeand I was encouraged toaid Father Paul as far as I could. I had meant to build a memorial church forfatherbut they urged me to give the money instead to this cause. All mydealings until to-day have been with Father Paul alone. I have seen a little ofthe Prince Kalonay because they are always together; but he has always treatedme in a way to which no one could take exceptionand he is certainly very muchin earnest. When Father Paul left Paris mother and I came on here in order to benear himand that is how you find me at Tangier. And now that you understandhow much this means to meI know you will not do anything to stand in our way.Those men inside are afraid that you came here for just the reason thatapparently has brought youand when they saw you a little while ago through thewindows they were greatly disturbed. Let me tell them that you mean to volunteerfor the campaign. The King cannot refuse the services of a man who has done thethings you are always doing. And I promise you that for a reward you shall bethe only one to tell the story of our attempt. I promise you" she repeatedearnestly"that the day we enter the capitalyou can cable whatever youplease and tell our story to the whole of Europe."
"The story be hanged!" replied Gordon. "You have made this amuch more serious business than a newspaper story. You misunderstand me utterlyPatty. I am here now because I am not going to have you compromised androbbed."
The girl stood up and looked down at the young man indignantly.
"You have no right whatever to use that tone to me" she said."I am of age and my own adviser. I am acting for the good of a great numberof peopleand according to what my conscience and common sense tell me isright. I shall hate you if you attempt to interfere. You can do one of twothingsArchie. I give you your choice: you can either go with them as avolunteerand promise to keep our secret; or you can cable what you know nowwhat you know only by accidentbut if you doyou will lose your best friendand you will defeat a good and a noble effort."
Gordon leaned back in his chairand looked up at her steadily for a briefmomentand then rose with a smileand bowed to the two women in silence. Hecrossed the terrace quickly with an amused and puzzled countenanceand walkedinto the breakfast-roomfrom the windows of whichas he rightly guessedthefive conspirators had for some time observed him. He looked from one to
the other of the men about the tableuntil his eyes finally met those of theKing.
"I believesiryou are leading an expedition against the Republic ofMessina?" Gordon said. "I am afraid it can't start unless you take mewith you."
The presence in Tangier of the King of Messina and his suiteand the arrival there of the French noblemen who had volunteered for theexpeditioncould not escape the observation of the resident Consuls-General andof the foreign colonyand dinnersriding and hunting partiespig-stickingand excursions on horseback into the outlying country were planned for theirhonor and daily entertainment. Had the conspirators held aloof from thesetheresidents might have askedsince it was not to enjoy themselveswhat was thepurpose of their stay in Tangier; and soto allay suspicion as to their realobjectdifferent members of the expedition had been assigned from time to timeto represent the visitors at these festivities. On the morning following thereturn of the yacht from Messinaan invitation to ride to a farmhouse somemiles out of Tangier and to breakfast there had been sent to the visitorsandthe King had directed the Prince Kalonayand half of the delegation from Paristo accept it in his name.
They were well content to goand rode forth gayly and in high spiritsforthe word had been brought them early in the morning that the expedition wasalready prepared to moveand that same evening at midnight the yacht would setsail for Messina. They were careless as to what fortune waited for them there.The promise of much excitementof fighting and of dangerof possible honor andsuccessstirred the hearts of the young men gloriouslyand as they gallopedacross the plainsor raced each other from point to pointor halted to jumptheir ponies across the many gaping crevices which the sun had split in thesurface of the plainthey filled the stillwarm air with their shouts andlaughter. In the party there were many ladiesand the groups changed and formedagain as they rode forwardspread out on either side of the caravan-trail andcovering the plain like a skirmish line of cavalry. But Kalonay kept close atMiss Carson's stirrupwhether she walked her pony or sent him flying across thehardsunbaked soil.
"I hope you won't do that again" he saidearnestlyas she drewup pantingwith her sailor hat and hair falling to her shoulders. They had beengalloping recklessly over the open crevices in the soil.
"It's quite the nastiest country I ever saw" he said. "Itlooks as though an earthquake had shaken it open and had forgotten to close itagain. Believe meit is most unsafe and dangerous. Your pony might stumble --" He stoppedas though the possibilities were too serious for wordsbutthe girl laughed.
"It's no more dangerous than riding across our prairie at dusk when youcan't see the barbed wire. You are the last person in the world to find faultbecause a thing is dangerous" she added.
They had reached the farmwhere they went to breakfastand the youngEnglishman who was their host was receiving his guests in his gardenand theservants were passing among themcarrying cool drinks and powdered sweets andTurkish coffee. Kalonay gave their ponies to a servant and pointed with his whipto an arbor that stood at one end of the garden.
"May we sit down there a moment until they call us?" he said."I have news of much importance -- and I may not have another chance"he beggedlooking at her wistfully. The girl stood motionless; her eyes wereseriousand she measured the distance down the walk to the arbor as though shesaw it beset with dangers more actual than precipices and twisted wire. ThePrince
watched her as though his fate was being weighed in his presence.
"Very well" she said at lastand moved on before him down thegarden-path.
The arbor was open to the air with a lowbroad roof of palm-leaves thatoverhung it on all sides and left it in deep shadow. Around it were many strangeplants and flowerssome native to Morocco and some transplanted from theirEnglish home. From where they sat they could see the other guests moving in andout among the groves of orange and olive trees and swaying palmsand standingoutlined against the blue skyupon the lowflat roof of the farm-house.
"I have dared to ask you to be so good as to give me this moment"the Prince said humblyonly because I am going awayand it may be my lastchance to speak with you. You do not mind? You do not think I presume?"
"NoI do not mind" said the girlsmiling. "In my country wedo not think it a terrible offence to talk to a girl at a garden-party. But yousaid there was something of importance you wanted to say to me. You mean theexpedition?"
"Yes" said Kalonay. "We start this evening." The girlraised her head slightly and stared past him at the burning white walls and theburning
blue sky that lay outside the circle of shadow in which they sat.
"This evening -- " she repeated to herself.
"We reach there in two days" Kalonay continued; "and then we-- then we go on -- until we enter the capital."
The girl's head was bentand she looked at her hands as they lay in her lapand frowned at themthey seemed so white and pretty and useless.
"Yesyou go on" she repeated"and we stay here. You are aman and able to go on. I know what that means. And you like it" she addedwith a glance of mingled admiration and fear. "You are glad to fight and torisk death and to lead men on to kill other men."
Kalonay drew lines in the sand with his riding-whipand did not raise hishead.
"I suppose it is because you are fighting for your home" the girlcontinued"and to set your country freeand that you can live with yourown people againand because it is a holy war. That must be it. Now that it isreally comeI see it all differently. I see things I had not thought aboutbefore. They frighten me" she said.
The Prince raised his head and faced the girlclasping the end of his whipnervously in his hand. "If we should win the island for the King" he
I Suppose it is because You are Fighting for your Home."
said"I believe it will make a great change in me. I shall be able to gofreely then to my homeas you sayto live there alwaysto give up the life Ihave led on the Continent. It has been a foolish life -- a dog's life -- and Ihave no one to blame for it but myself. I made it worse than it need to havebeen. But if we winI have promised myself that I will not return to it; and ifwe fall I shall not return to itfor the reason that I shall have been killed.I shall have much power if we win. When I say much powerI mean much power inMessinain that little corner of the worldand I wish to use it worthily andwell. I am afraid I should not have thought of it" he went onnaivelyasthough he were trying to be quite fair"had not Father Paul pointed out tome what I should dohow I could raise the people and stop the abuses which madethem drive us from the island. The people must be taxed less heavilyand themoney must be spent for them and not for uson roads and harbors and schoolsnot at the Palace on banquets and fetes. These are Father Paul's ideasnotmine-- but now I make them mine." He rose and paced the length of thelittle arborhis hands clasped behind him and his eyes bent on the ground."Yesthat is what I mean to do" he said. "That is the way Imean to live.
And if we failI mean to be among those who are to die on the fortifications ofthe capitalso that with me the Kalonay family will endand end fighting forthe Kingas many of my people have done before me. There is no other way. Forme there shall be no more idleness nor exile. I must either live on to help mypeopleor I must die with them." He stopped in his walk and regarded thegirl closely. "You may be thinkingit is easy for him to promise thisitis easy to speak of what one will do. I know that. I know that I can point backat nothing I have done that gives me any right to ask you to believe me now. ButI do ask itfor if you believe me -- believe what I say -- it makes it easierfor me to tell you why after this I must live worthily. But you know why? Youmust know; it is not possible that you do not know."
He sat down beside her on the benchleaning forward and crushing his handstogether on his knee. "It is because I love you. Because I love you so thateverything which is not worthy is hateful to memyself most of all. It is theonly thing that counts. I used to think I knew what love meant; I used to thinklove was a selfish thing that needed love in returnthat it must be fed on loveto livethat it needed vows and tender speeches
and caressesor it would die. I know now that when one truly careshe does notask whether the other cares or not. It is what one gives that countsnot whatone receives. You have given me nothing -- nothing -- not a word nor a look; yetsince I have known you I have been more madly happy in just knowing that youlive than I would have been had any other woman in all the world thrown herselfinto my arms and said she loved me above all other men. I am not fit to tell youthis. But to-night I go to try myselfeither never to see you againor to comeback perhaps more worthy to love you. Think of this when I am gone. Do not speakto me now. I may have made you hate me for speaking soor I may have made youpity me; so let me go not knowingjust loving youworshipping youand holdingyou apart and above all other people. I go to fight for youdo you understand?Not for our Churchnot for my peoplebut for youto live or die for you. AndI ask nothing from you but that you will let me love you always."
The Prince bentand catching up Miss Carson's riding-gloves that lay besideher on the benchkissed them again and againand thenrising quicklywalkedout of the arbor into the white sunshineandwithout turningmounted his pony
and galloped across the burning desert in the direction of Tangier.
Archie Gordon had not been invited to join the excursion into the countrynor would he have accepted itfor he wished to be by himself that he mightreview the situation and consider what lay before him. He sat with his long legsdangling over the broad rampart which overlooks the harbor of Tangier. He waswhistling meditatively to himself and beating an accompaniment to the tune withhis heels. At intervals he ceased whistling while he placed a cigar between histeeth and pulled upon it thoughtfullyresuming his tune again at the pointwhere it had been interrupted. Below him the waves ran up lazily on the levelbeach and sank againdragging the long sea-weed with themas they sweptagainst the sharp rocksand exposed them for an instantnaked and glisteningin the sun. On either side of him the town stretched to meet the lowwhitesand-hills in a crescent of lowwhite houses pierced by green minarets androyal palms. A warm sun had sent the world to sleep at mid-dayand an enforcedpeace hung over the glaring white town and the sparkling blue sea. Gordonblinked at the glarebut his eyes showed no signs of drowsiness. They
wereon the contraryawake to all that passed on the high road behind himandon the sandy beach at his feetwhile at the same time his mind was busilyoccupied in reviewing what had occurred the day beforeand in adjusting newconditions. At the hotel he had found that the situation was becoming toocomplicatedand that it was impossible to feel sure of the truth of anythingor of the sincerity of anyone. Since the luncheon hour the day before he hadbecome a fellow-conspirator with men who were as objectionable to him in everyway as he knew he was obnoxious to them. But they had been forced to accept himbecauseso they supposedhe had them at the mercy of his own pleasure. He knewtheir secretand in the legitimate pursuit of his profession he couldif hechoseinform the island of Messinawith the rest of the worldof theirintention toward itand bring their expedition to an endthough he had chosenas a reward for his silenceto become one of themselves. Only the Countess Zarahad guessed the truththat it was Gordon himself who was at their mercyandthat so long as the American girl persisted in casting her fortunes with themher old young friend was only too eager to make any arrangement with them thatwould keep him at her side.
It was a perplexing positionand Gordon turned it over and over in his mind.Had it not been that Miss Carson had a part in it he would have enjoyed theadventureas an adventurekeenly. He had no objections to fighting on the sideof rascalsor against rascals. He objected to them only in the calmer momentsof private life; and as he was of course ignorant that the expedition was only amake-believehe felt a certain respect for his fellow-conspirators as men whowere willing to stake their lives for a chance of better fortune. But that theirbravery was of the kind which would make them hesitate to rob and deceive ahelpless girl he very much doubted; for he knew that even the bravest ofwarriors on their way to battle will requisition a herd of cattle or stop toloot a temple. The day beforeGordon had witnessed the brief ceremony whichattended the presentation of the young noblemen from Paris who had volunteeredfor the expedition in all good faithand he reviewed it and analyzed it as hesat smoking on the ramparts.
It had been an impressive ceremonyin spite of the fact that so few hadtaken part in itbut the earnestness of the visitors and the enthusiasm ofKalonay and the priest had made up for the lack of numbers. The scene hadappealed to him as
one of the most dramatic he had witnessed in the pursuit of a calling in whichlooking on at real dramas was the most frequent dutyand he had enjoyed thestrange mixture of ancient terms of address and titles with the modern mannersof the men themselves. It had interested him to watch Baron Barrat bring out theancient crown and jewelled sceptre which had been the regalia of all the Kingsof Messina since the Crusades and spread them out upon a wicker tea-tablefromwhich Niccolas had just removed some empty coffee-cupshalf filled with theends of cigarettessome yellow-backed novelsand a copy of the Paris Figaro.It was also interesting to him to note how the sight of the little heir-apparentaffected both the peasants from the mountains and the young nobles from the ClubRoyale. The former fell upon their knees with the tears rolling down the furrowsin their tanned cheekswhile the little wise-eyed boy stood clinging to hisnurse's skirts with one hand and to his father's finger with the otherandnodded his head at them gravely like a toy mandarin.
Then the King had addresed them in a dignifiedearnestand almost eloquentspeechand had promised much and prophesied the best of fortunesand thenatthe lasthad turned suddenly
toward Miss Carsonwhere she stood in the background between her mother andFather Paul.
"Every cause has its Joan of Arcor its Maria Theresa" he criedlooking steadfastly at Miss Carson. "No cause has succeeded without somegood woman to aid it. To help usmy friendswe have a daughter of the peopleas was Joan of Arcand a queenas was Maria Theresafor she comes from thatcountry where every woman is a queen in her own rightand where the love ofliberty is inherent." The King took a quick step backwardand taking MissCarson's hand drew her forward beside him and placed her facing his audiencewhile the girl made vain efforts to withdraw her hand. "This is she"he said earnestly"the true daughter of the Church who has made itpossible for us to return to our own again. It is due to her that the King ofMessina shall sit once more on his throne; it is through her generosity alonethat the churches will rise from their ruins and that you will once again hearthe Angelus ring across the fields at sunset. Remember hermy friends andcousinspray for her as a saint upon earthand fight gloriously to help her tosuccess!"
Gordon had restrained himself with difficulty while this scene was beingenacted; he could not bear the thought of the King touching the girl's
hand. He struggled to prevent himself from crying out at the false position intowhich he had dragged her; and yet there was something so admirably sincere inthe King's wordssomething so courteous and manlythat it robbed his words ofall the theatrical effect they heldand his tribute to the girl filled evenGordon with an emotion which on the part of the young nobles found expression incheer upon cheer.
Gordon recalled these cheers and the looks of wondering admiration which hadbeen turned upon Miss Carsonand he grew so hot at the recollection that hestruck the wall beside him savagely with his clinched fistand damned theobstinacy of his young and beautiful friend with a sincerity and vigor that wasthe highest expression of his interest in her behalf.
He threw his cigar into the rampart at his feet and dropped back into thehigh road. It was deserted at the timeexcept for the presence of a tallslightly built strangerwho advanced toward him from the city gates. The manwas dressed in garments of European fashion and carried himself like a soldierand Gordon put him down at a glance as one of the volunteers from Paris. Thestranger was walking leisurelystopping to gaze at the feluccas in the bayandthen turning to look
up at the fortress on the hill. He seemed to have no purpose in his walk exceptthe interest of a touristand as he drew up even with Gordon he raised hishelmet politely andgreeting him in Englishasked if he were on the right roadto the Bashaw's Palace. Gordon pointed to where the white walls of the palacerose above the other white walls about it.
"That is it" he said. "All the roads lead to it. You keepgoing up hill."
"Thank you" said the stranger. "I see I have taken a longway." He put his white umbrella in the sandandremoving his helmetmopped his forehead with his handkerchief. "It is a curious old townTangier" he saidaffably"but too many hillsis it not so? AlgiersI like better. There is more life."
"YesAlgiers is almost as good as the boulevards" Gordonassented"if you like the boulevards. I prefer this place because it isunspoiled. Butas you saythere is not much to do here."
The stranger's eyes fell upon the Hotel Grande Bretagnewhich stood aquarter of a mile away from them on the beach.
"That is the Hotel Bretagneis it not?" he asked. Gordon answeredhim with a nod.
"The King Louis of Messinaso the chasseur
at the hotel tells meis stopping there en suite the stranger addedwith aninterrogative air of one who volunteers an interesting factand who asks if itis true at the same moment.
"I can't sayI'm sure" Gordon replied. "I only arrived hereyesterday."
The stranger bowed his head in recognition of this piece of personalinformationandputting on his helmetpicked up his umbrella as though tocontinue his stroll. As he did so his eyes wandered over the harbor and werearrested with apparent interest by the yachtwhich lay a conspicuous object onthe blue water. He pointed at it with his umbrella.
"One of your English men-of-war is in the harborI see. She is veryprettybut not large; not so large as many" he said.
Gordon turned his head obligingly and gazed at the yacht with politeinterest. "Is that a man-of-war? I thought it was a yacht" he said."I'm not familiar with the English war-vessels. I am an American."
"Ahindeed!" commented the affable stranger. "I am Frenchmyselfbut I think she is a man-of-war. I saw her guns when I passed on thesteamer from Gibraltar."
Gordon knew that the steamer did not pass
within half a mile of where the yacht lay at anchorbut he considered it mightbe possible to see her decks with the aid of a glass.
"You may be right" he answeredindifferently. As he turned hiseyes from the boat he saw a womandressed in whiteand carrying a parasolleave the gardens of the Hotel Bretagneand come toward them along the beach.The Frenchmanfollowing the direction of his eyessaw her alsoand regardedher instantly with such evident concern that Gordonwho had recognized her evenat that distance as the Countess Zarafelt assured that his inquisitor heldashe had already suspectedmore than a tourist's interest in Tangier.
"WellI will wish you a good-morning" said the Frenchmanhurriedly.
"Good-morning" Gordon repliedand taking a cigar from his casehe seated himself again upon the rampart. As he walked away the stranger glancedback over his shoulderbut Gordon was apparently absorbed in watching the wavesbelow himand had lost all interest in his chance acquaintance. But he watchedboth the woman and the Frenchman as they advanced slowly from oppositedirections and drew nearer togetherand he was not altogether surprisedwhenthe in man was
within twenty feet of herto see her start and stand stilland thenwith theindecision of a hunted animalmove uncertainlyand then turn and run in thedirection of the hotel. Something the man apparently called after her caused herto stopand Gordon observed them now with undisguised interest as they stoodconversing togetheroblivious of the conspicuous mark they made on the broadwhite beach under the brilliant sun.
"I wonder what he's up to now?" Gordon mused. "He was tryingto pump methat's evidentand he certainly recognized the ladyand sheapparently did not want to recognize him. I wonder if he is a rejected loveroranother conspirator. This is a most amusing placenothing but plots andcounterplots and -- Hello!" he exclaimed aloud. The man had moved quicklypast Madame Zaraand had started toward the hoteland Zara had held out herhand to himas though to entreat him to remain. But he did not stopand shehad taken a few uncertain steps after himand had thenmuch to the American'sdismayfallen limply on her back on the soft sand. She was not a hundred yardsdistant from where he satand in an instant he had slipped from the wallanddropped on his hands and knees on the beach below. When Gordon reached her theFrenchman
had returnedand was supporting her head on his knee and covering her head withher parasol.
"The lady has fainted!" he exclaimedeagerly. His manner was nolonger one of idle indolence. He was wide awake now and visibly excited.
"The sun has been too much for her" he said. It is most dangerouswalking about at this time of day."
Gordon ran down the beach and scooped up some water in his helmetanddipping his handkerchief in it bathed her temples and cheek. He had time to notethat she was a very beautiful girland the pallor of her face gave it a touchof gentleness that he had not seen there before.
"I will go to the hotel and bring assistancesaid the strangeruneasilyas the woman showed signs of regaining consciousness.
"No" said Gordon"you'll stay where you are and shade herwith her umbrella. She'll be all right in a minute."
The girl opened her eyesand looking up saw Gordon bending over her. Sheregarded him for a moment and made an effort to riseand in her endeavor to doso her eyes met those of the Frenchmanand with a sharp moan she shut themagain and threw herself from Gordon's knee to the sand.
"Give me that umbrella" said Gordon"and go stand over thereout of the way."
The man rose from his knee without showing any resentment and walked somelittle distance awaywhere he stood with his arms foldedlooking out to sea.He seemed much too occupied with something of personal interest to concernhimself with a woman's fainting-spell. The girl lifted herself slowly to herelbowand thenbefore Gordon could assist herrose with a quickgracefulmovement and stood erect upon her feet. She placed a detaining hand for aninstant on the American's arm.
"Thank you very much" she said. "I am afraid I have beenimprudent in going out into the sun." Her eyes were fixed upon theFrenchmanwho stood moodily staring at the sea and tearing one of hisfinger-nails with his teeth. He seemed utterly oblivious of their presence. Thegirl held out her hand for the parasol she had dropped and took it from Gordonwith a bow.
"May I walk back with you to your hotel?" he asked. "Unlessthis gentleman -- -- "
"Thank you" the girl saidin tones which the Frenchman could haveeasily overheard had he been listening. "I am quite able to go alone now;it is only a step."
She was still regarding the Frenchman closely; but as he was obviouslyunconscious of them she moved so that Gordon hid her from himand in anentirely different voice she saidspeaking rapidly--
"You are Mr. Gordonthe American who joined us last night. That man isa spy from Messina. He is Renauldthe Commander-in-Chief of their army. He mustbe gotten away from here at once. It is a matter for a man to attend to. Willyou do it?"
"How do you know this?" Gordon asked. "How do you know he isGeneral Renauld? I want to be certain."
The girl tossed her head impatiently.
"He was pointed out to me at Messina. I saw him there in command at areview. He has just spoken to me -- that was what frightened me into thatfainting-spell. I didn't think I was so weak" she saidshaking her head."He offered me a bribe to inform him of our plans. I tell you he is aspy."
"That's all right" said Gordonreassuringly; "you go back tothe hotel now and send those guards here on a run. I'll make a charge againsthim and have him locked up until after we sail to-night. Hurryplease; I'llstay here."
Gordon felt a pleasurable glow of excitement. It was his nature to throwhimself into everything he did and to at once become a partisan. It was aquality which made his writings attractive to the readerand an object ofconcern to his editor. At the very word "spy" and at this first hintof opposition to the cause in which he had but just enlistedhe thrilled asthough it had always been his ownand he regarded the Frenchman with a personaldislike as sudden as it was unfounded.
The Frenchman had turned and was walking in the direction of the city gate.His eyes were bent on the sandy beach which stretched before himand he madehis way utterly unmindful of the waves that stole up to his feet and left littlepools of water in his path. Gordon beckoned impatiently to the two soldiers whocame running toward him at the hoteland moved forward to meet them the sooner.He took one of them by the wrist and pointed with his other hand at theretreating figure of the Frenchman.
"That man" he said"is one of the King's enemies. The Kingis in danger while that man is here. Your duty is to protect the Kingso hegives this foreigner into your charge."
The soldier nodded his head in assent. "The King himself sent us"he replied.
"You will place him in the Civil Prison" Gordon continued"until the King is safe on his yachtand you will not allow him to sendfor the French Consul-General. If he sees the Consul-General he will tell him agreat many lies about youand a great war-ship will come and your Bashaw willbe forced to pay the foreigners much money. I will go with you and tell this manin his own tongue what you are going to do with him."
They walked hurriedly after the Frenchmanand when they had overtaken himGordon halted and bowed.
"One momentplease" he said. "These soldiers have an orderfor your arrest. I speak the languageand if you have anything to say to them Iwill interpret for you."
The Frenchman stared from Gordon to the guards and then laughed incredulouslybut with no great confidence. He had much to saybut he demanded to know firstwhy he should be arrested.
"The lady you insulted" Gordon answeredgravely"happenedunfortunately for youto be one of the King's guests. She has complained tohimand he has sent these soldiers to put you where you cannot trouble heragain. You seesiryou cannot annoy women with impunity even in this barbarouscountry."
"Insult her! I did not insult her" the man retorted. "That isnot the reason I am arrested."
"You annoyed her so much that she fainted. I saw you" said Gordonbacking away with the evident purpose of abandoning the foreigner to his guards.
"She has lied" the man cried"either to the King or to me. Ido not know whichbut I am here to find out. That is why I came to TangierandI intend to learn the truth."
"You've begun rather badly" Gordon answeredas he stillretreated. "In the Civil Prison your field of investigation will belimited."
The Frenchman took a hasty step toward himshrugging off the hand one of thesoldiers had placed on his shoulder.
"Are you the Prince Kalonaysir?" he demanded. "But surelynot" he added.
"NoI am not the Prince" Gordon answered. "I bid yougood-morningsir."
"Then you are on the other side" the man called after him eagerlywith a tone of great relief. "I have been right from the very first. I seeit plainly. It is a double plotand you are one of that woman's dupes. Listento me -- I beg of youlisten to me -- I have a story to tell."
Gordon paused and looked back at the man over his shoulderdoubtfully.
"It's like the Arabian Nights" he saidwith a puzzled smile."There was once a rich merchant of Bagdad and the Sultan was going toexecute himbut they put off the execution until he could tell them the storyof the Beautiful Countess and the French Envoy. I am sorry" he addedshaking his head"but I cannot listen now. I must not be seen talking toyou at alland everyone can see us here."
They were as conspicuous figures on the flat surface of the beach as twopalms in a desertand Gordon was most anxious to escapefor he was consciousthat he could be observed from every point in the town. A hundred yards awayonthe terrace of the hotelhe saw the KingMadame ZaraBarratand Erhauptstanding together watching them.
"If the American leaves him nowwe are safe" the King was saying.He spoke in a whisperas though he feared that even at that distance Gordon andthe Frenchman could overhear his words. "But if he remains with him he willfind out the truthand that means ruin. He will ruin us."
"Lookhe is coming this way" Zara answered. "He is leavinghim. The danger is past."
The Frenchman raised his eyes and saw the four figures grouped closelytogether on the terrace.
"Seewhat did I tell you?" he cried. "She is with the Kingnow. It is a plot within a plotand I believe you know it" he addedfuriously. "You are one of these brave blackmailers yourself -- that is whyyou will not let me speak."
"Blackmailers!" said Gordon. "Confound your impudencewhatthe devil do you mean by that?"
But the Frenchman was staring angrily at the distant group on the terraceand Gordon turned his eyes in the same direction. Something he saw in thestrained and eager attitude of the four conspirators moved him to a suddendetermination.
"That will doyou must go" he commandedpointing with his armtoward the city gate; and before the Frenchman could replyhe gave an order tothe guardsand they seized the foreigner roughly by either arm and hurried himaway.
"Thank God!" exclaimed the Kingpiously. "They haveseparatedand the boy thinks he is rendering us great service. Welland so heisthe young fool."
The group on the piazza remained motionless
The King's Jackal watching Gordon as he leisurely lit a cigar and stood lookingout at the harbor until the Frenchman had disappeared inside the city wall. Thenhe turned and walked slowly after him.
"I do not like that. I do not like his following him" said Barratsuspiciously.
"That is nothing" answered the King. "He is going to play thespy and see that the man is safely in jail. Then he will return and report tous. We must congratulate him warmly. He follows at a discreet distanceyouobserveand keeps himself well out of sight. The boy knows better than tocompromise himself by being seen in conversation with the man. Of courseifRenauld is set free we must say we had no part in his arrestthat the Americanmade the arrest on his own authority. What a convenient tool the young man is.Whyhis coming really frightened us at firstand now -- now we make acat's-paw of him." The King laughed merrily. "We undervalue ourselvessometimesdo we not?"
"He is a nice boy" said Zara. "I feel rather sorry for him.He looked so anxious and distressed when I was so silly as to faint on the beachjust now. He handled me as tenderly as a woman would have done -- not that womenhave generally handled me tenderly" she added.
"I was thinking the simile was rather misplaced" said the King.
Gordon passed the city wall and heard the gates swing to behind him. TheFrenchman and his two captors were just aheadtoiling heavily up the steep andnarrow street. Gordon threw his cigar from him and ran leaping over the hugecobbles to the Frenchman's side and touched him on the shoulder.
"We are out of sight of the hotelnowGeneral" he said. Hepointed to the darkcool recesses of a coffee-shop and held back the rug thathung before it. "Come in here" he said"and tell me thatstory."
Baron Barrat was suspicious by education -- his experience oflife and his own conduct had tended to render him so; and accordingly whenthree hours after he had seen Gordon apparently commit the French officer tojailhe found them leaving a cafe in the most friendly and amicable spirithewasted no time in investigationbut hurried at once to warn the King.
"What we feared would happenhas happened" he said. "TheFrenchman has told Gordon that Zara and Kalonay sold the secret of theexpeditionand Gordon will be coming here to warn you of it. Nowwhat are yougoing to do? We must act quickly."
"I shall refuse to believe the Frenchmanof course" said theKing. "I shall ask Zara in his presence to answer his chargesand she willtell him he lies. That is all there will be of it. What does it matter what hesays? We sail at midnight. We can keep him quiet until then."
"If he is troublesome I can call for help from this roomand theservants of the hotel and the
guards will rush in and find us struggling together. We will charge him with anattempt at assassinationand this time he surely will go to jail. By to-morrowmorning we shall be many miles at sea."
"But he can cable to Messinaby way of Gibraltarand head usoff" objected Barrat.
"What can he cable?" demanded the King. "Nothing the people ofthe Republic do not already know. It is our friends here that must not find usout. That is the main thing. Thank Heaven!" he exclaimed"Kalonay andPaul are out of the wayand those crazy boys from Paris. We will settle it hereamong ourselves in five minutes."
"And the American?" asked Zara. "He knowshe will come withhim. Suppose he believessuppose he believes that Kalonay and I have sold yououtbut suspects that you know it?"
"The American can go to the devil" said the King. "Confoundhim and his insolence. I'll have him in the prison tooif he interferes. OrErhaupt can pick a quarrel with him here and fight it out behind the sand-hillsbefore the others get back from their picnic. He has done as much for mebefore."
Zara stood up. She was trembling slightlyand she glanced fearfully fromErhaupt to the King.
"You will not do that" she said.
"And why notmadame?" demanded Louis.
"Because it will be murder" Zara whispered. "He will murderhim as he did that boy in the Park at Pesth."
"What does the woman mean?" growled the German. "Is she mad?Send her to her roomLouis."
"You know what I mean" Zara answeredher voice risingin herexcitement. "You fired before they gave the word. I know you did. OhLouis" she cried"you never warned me it might come to this. I amafraid. I am afraid to meet that man -- -- "
She gave a sudden cry. "And Kalonay!" She held out her handsappealingly. "Indeed" she cried"do not let Kalonay questionme."
"Silence!" commanded the King. "You are acting like afool." He advanced toward herand clasped her wrist firmly in his hand."No nervesnow" he said. "I'll not have it. You shall meetKalonayand you shall swear that he is in the plot against me. If you fail usnowwe are ruined. As it iswe are sure to lose the bribe from the Republicbut we may still get Miss Carson's money if you play your part. It is your wordand the word of the Frenchman against Kalonay's.
And we have the paper signed by you for Kalonay as evidence. Have you got itwith you?"
Zara bowed her head. "It is always with me" she answered.
"Good" said the King. "It will be a difficult chancebut ifyou stand to your storyand we pretend to believe youthe others may believeyoutoo."
"But I cannot" Zara cried. "I know I cannot. I tell you ifyou put me face to face with KalonayI shall fail you. I shall break down. Theywill see that I am lying. Send me away. Send me away before they come. Tell themI saw the Frenchmanand suspected I had been found outand that I have goneaway. Tell them you don't know where I am."
"I believe she's right" Erhaupt said. "She will do us moreharm than good. Let her go to her room and wait there."
"She will remain where she is" said the Kingsternly. "Andshe will keep her courage and her wits about heror -- -- "
He was interrupted by an exclamation from Barrat. "Whatever you mean todoyou must do it at once" he saidgrimly. He was standing at the windowwhich overlooked the beach. "Here they come now" he continued."The American
has taken no chanceshe is bringing an audience with him."
The King and Erhaupt ran to the windowand peered over Barrat's shoulder.
Advancing toward them along the beachsome on footand some on horsebackwere all the members of the expeditionthose who had been of the riding-partyand those who had remained in Tangier. Gordon and the Frenchman Renauld were farin the leadwalking by themselves and speaking earnestly together; Father Paulwas walking with Mrs. Carson and her daughterand Kalonay was riding with twoof the volunteersthe Count de Rouen and Prince Henri of Poitiers.
When the King and Erhaupt turned from the window the Countess Zara haddisappeared. "It is better so" said Erhaupt; "she was so badlyfrightened she would have told the truth."
The King stood leaning on the back of a large arm-chair. "Wellthemoment has comeit is our last chance" he said. "Send for the CrownPrinceBaron. I shall be discovered in the act of taking a tender farewell ofmy son."
Barrat made an eager gesture of dissent.
"I would not do that" he cried. "If we are to make chargesagainst the jackal do not have the boy present; the boy must not hear them. You
know how Kalonay worships the childand it would enrage him more to be exposedbefore the Prince than before all the rest of the world. He will be hard enoughto handle without that. Don't try him too far."
"You are absurdBarrat" exclaimed the King. "The boy won'tunderstand what is said."
"Nobut the Jackal will" Barrat returned. "You don'tunderstand himLouishe is like a woman; he has sentiment and feelingsandwhen we all turn on him he will act like a madman. Keep the boy out of hissightI tell you. It's the only thing he cares for in the world. He has been abetter father to him than you ever have been."
"That was quite natural; that was because it was his duty" saidthe Kingcalmly. "A Kalonay has always been the protector and tutor of theheir-apparent. If this one chooses to give his heart with his servicethat isnot my concern. Whyconfound themthey all think more of the child than theydo of me. That is why I need him by me now."
Barrat shook his head. "I tell you it will make troublehe persisted."Kalonay will not stand it. He and the child are more like comrades than atutor and his pupil. WhyKalonay would rather sit with the boy in theChamps-Elysees and
point out the people as they go by than drive at the side of the prettiest womanin Paris. He always treats him as though he saw the invisible crown upon hishead; he will throw over any of us to stay in the nursery and play tin soldierswith him. And when he was ill -- " Barrat nodded his head significantly."You remember."
"That will do" said the King. "We have no time to considerthe finer feelings of the jackal; he is to be sacrificedand that is all thereis of it. The presence of the child may make him more unmanageablebut it willcertainly make it easier for me. So gobring the boy here as I bid you."
Barrat left the room and returned immediatelyfollowed by the Crown Princeand his nurse. The Prince was a darkhandsome little fellow of four years. Hismother had died when he was bornand he had never played with children of hisown ageand his face was absurdly wise and wistful; but it lighted with a sweetand grateful smile when anyone showed him kindness or sought to arouse hisinterest. To the Crown Prince Kalonay was an awful and wonderful being. He wasthe one person who could make him laugh out of pure happiness and for no reasonas a child should laugh. And people who had seen them together asked which ofthe princes was the older of the
two. When the child entered the roomclinging to Barrat's fingerhe carried inhis other hand a wooden spade and bucketstill damp with sandand he wasdressed in a shabby blue sailor suit which left his little legs bareandexposed the scratches and bruises of many falls.
A few moments laterwhen the conspirators entered the King's salonprecededby Erhauptthey found the boy standing by his father's knee. The King had hishand upon the child's headand had been interrupted apparently in a discourseon the dignity of kingshipfor the royal crown of Messina had been brought outand stood beside him on the tableand his other hand rested on it reverently.It was an effective tableauand the visitors observed it with varying emotionsbut with silence.
The King rosetaking his son's hand in hisand bowedlooking inquiringlyfrom Barrat to the Prince Kalonay.
"To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" he asked. "Wasit discreet of you to come together in this way? But you are most welcome. Placechairs for the ladiesBarrat."
Kalonay glanced at the othersand they nodded to him as though to make himtheir spokesman. He pointed at Gordon with his cap.
"We are here on the invitation of this gentleman
your Majesty" he said. "He took it upon himself to send after thoseof us who had gone into the countryand came in person for the others whoremained in town. He tells us he has news of the greatest importance tocommunicatewhich he cannot disclose except to youand in the presence of allof those who are to take part in the expedition. We decided to accompany himhereas he asked usand to leave it to your Majesty to say whether or not youwished us to remain." Kalonay smiled in apology at the Kingand the Kinganswered him with a smile.
"The procedure is perhaps unconventional" the King said"butin America they move quickly. No doubt our young companion has acted as hethought was for the best. If he has taken a libertythe nature of his news willprobably excuse him. PerhapsMr. Gordon" he addedturning to theAmerican"you had better first tell me what this discovery isand I willdecide whether it is best to discuss it in open council."
Gordon did not appear to be the least disturbed by the criticism Kalonay andthe King had passed upon his conduct. He only smiled pleasantly when the Kinghad finished speakingand showed no inclination to accept a private audience.
"What I have to sayyour Majesty" he began
"is this. I have learned that all the secrets of your expedition have beensold to the Republic of Messina. One of those now present in this room ischarged with having sold them. Shall I go on" he asked"or do youstill think it advisable for anyone to leave the room.
He paused and glanced from the King to the double row of conspiratorswhowere standing together in a close semicircle facing the King and himself. Theinstant he ceased speaking there rose from their ranks an outburst ofconsternationof angerand of indignant denial. The King's spirits rose withinhim at the soundalthough he frowned and made a gesture as though to commandsilence.
"Mr. Gordonthis is a serious charge you make" he saidsmilinggrimly. "One that may cost you a great deal -- it might cost you your lifeperhaps." He paused significantlyand there was a second outburstthistime from the younger menwhich came so suddenly that it was as though Louishad played upon certain chords on a keyboardand the sounds he wanted hadanswered to his touch.
"Pardon methat is not the question" said Gordon. "That Imake charges or run risks in making charges is not important. That yourexpedition
has failed before it has even started ishoweverof great importanceat leastso it sees to me."
There was a movement in the circleand Father Paul pushed his way forwardfrom his place beside Miss Carson's chair. He was so greatly moved that when hespoke his voice was harsh and broken. "What is your authority for saying wehave failed?" he demanded.
Gordon bowed gravely and turned and pointed to the Frenchman. "Thisgentleman" he said"is General RenauldCommander-in-Chief of thearmy of Messina. He is my authority. He knows all that you mean to do. If heknows itit is likelyis it notthat his army and the President of theRepublic know it alsoand that when we attempt to land they will be waiting forus."
The King silenced the second outburst that followed this by rising andholding up his hand.
"Silence! I believe I can explain" he said. He was smilingandhis bearing was easy and so full of assurance that the exclamations and whispersdied away on the instant. "I am afraid I see what has happened" theKing said. "But there need be no cause for alarm. This gentleman isas Mr.Gordon saysthe Commander-in-Chief of the Messinian armyand it is true hesuspected that an
armed force would invade the island. It is not strange that he should havesuspected itand it needed no traitor to enlighten him. The visit of FatherPaul and the Prince Kalonay in the yachtand their speeches inciting the peopleto rebellionwould have warned the government that an expedition might soonfollow. The return of our yacht to this place has no doubt been made known inMessina through the public pressand General Renauld followed the yacht here tolearn what he could of our plans -- of our intended movements. He came here tospy on usand as a spy I ordered Mr. Gordon to arrest him this morning on anycharge he pleasedand to place him out of our way until after to-nightwhen weshould have sailed. I chose Mr. Gordon to undertake this service because hehappened to speak the language of the countryand it was necessary to dealdirectly with the local authorities without the intervention of an outsider.What has happened is only too evident. The spywho when he came here onlysuspectednowas Mr. Gordon saysknows the truthand he could have learnedit only from one personto whom he has no doubt paid a pretty price for theinformation." The King took a step forward and pointed with his hand at theAmerican. "I gave that man into your keepingsir" he cried"but I
had you watched. Instead of placing him in jail you took him to a cafe andremained there with him for three hoursand from that cafe you came directlyhere to this room. If he knows the truthhe learned it in that cafeand helearned it from you!" There was a ring of such earnestness and sincerity inthe King's speechand he delivered it with such indignation and bitter contemptthat a shout of reliefof approbation and convictionwent up from his hearersand fell as quickly on the words as the applause of an audience drowns out thelast note of a great burst of song. Barratin the excess of his reliefturnedhis back sharply on the Kingglancing sideways at Erhaupt and shaking his headin speechless admiration.
"He is wonderfulsimply wonderful" Erhaupt muttered; "hewould have made a great actor or a great diplomat."
"He is wasted as a King" whispered Barrat.
There was a menacing movement on the part of the younger men toward Gordonand General Renauldwhich the King notedbut which he made no effort to check.Neither Gordon nor General Renauld gave any sign that they observed it. TheAmerican was busily engaged in searching his pocketsand from one of these heproduced two pieces of paperwhich he held up above
his headso that those in the room might see them.
"One momentplease" he beganand then waited until the tumult inthe room had ceased. "AgainI must point out to you" he saidinbriskbusiness-like tones"that we are digressing. The important thing isnot who didor did notsell out the expeditionbut that it is in danger offailing altogether. What his Majesty says is in part correct. I did not takethis gentleman to jail; I did take him to a cafeand there he told me much moreconcerning the expedition than I had learned from those directly interested. Hisinformationhe told mehad been sold to the Republic by one who visited theisland and who claimed to act for one other. I appreciated the importance ofwhat he saidand I also guessed that my word and his unsupported might bedoubtedas you have just doubted it. So I took the liberty of verifying whatGeneral Renauld told me by cabling to the President of Messina."
There was a shout of consternation at these wordsbut Gordon's manner was soconfident and the audacity of his admission so surprised his hearers that theywere silent again immediatelyand waitedwith breathless interestwhileGordon unfolded one of the pieces of paper.
"This is a copy of the cablegram I sent the President" he said"and to whichwith his permissionI signed General Renauld's name. It isas follows: --
The President. The PalaceMessina. -- They will not believe you arefully informed. Cable at once the exact hour when they will leave Tangieratwhat hour they expect to landat what place they expect to landwhat sum youhave promised to pay for this informationand the names of those to whom it isto be paid.
Gordon lowered the paper. "Is that quite clear?" he asked. "Doyou follow me? I have invited the enemy himself to inform you of your plansandto tell you who has betrayed them. His answerwhich was received a half houragoremoves all suspicion from any save those he names. General Renauld andmyself cease to be of the least consequence in the matter; we are onlymessengers. It is the President of Messina who will speak to you now. If youstill doubt that the secret of your expedition is known to the President youwill have to doubt him."
The King sprang quickly to his feet and struck the arm of his chair sharplywith his open hand.
"I shall not permit that message to be read" he said. "If wehave a traitor herehe is a traitor against me. And I shall deal with him as Isee fitin private."
There was a murmur of disappointment and of disapproval evenand the Kingagain struck the arm of his chair for silence. Kalonay advanced toward himshaking his head and holding out his hands in protest.
"Your MajestyI beseech you" he began. "This concerns usall" he cried. "It is too evident that we have been betrayed; but itis not fair to any of us that we should all lie under suspicionas we mustunless it is told who has been guilty of this infamy. I beg your Majesty toreconsider. There is no one in this room who is not in our secretand whoeverhas betrayed us must be with us here and now. Iwho have an interest secondonly to your ownask that that cablegram be read."
There was a murmur of approbation from the conspiratorsand exclamations ofapproval and entreaty. Miss Carsonin her excitementhad risen to her feet andwas standing holding her mother's hand. The King glanced uncertainly at Kalonayand then turned to Barrat and Erhaupt as if in doubt.
Gordon's eyes were fixed for a moment on Kalonay with a strange and puzzledexpression. Then he gave a short sigh of reliefand turning quickly searchedthe faces of those around him. What he saw seemed to confirm him in his purposefor he folded the paper and placed it in his pocket. "His Majesty isright" he said. "I shall not read this."
Kalonay and Father Paul turned upon him angrily. "You have no choice inthe mattersir" Kalonay cried. "It has passed entirely out of yourhands."
"I beg your Majesty that the cablegram be read" the priestdemandedin a voice that held less the tone of a request than of a command.
"I shall not read it" persisted Gordon"because the personchiefly concerned is not present."
"That is all the more reason for reading it" said Kalonay."Your Majesty must reconsider."
The King whispered to Barratand the others waited in silence that expressedtheir interest more clearly than a chorus of questions would have done.
"It shall be as you ask" the King saidat last. "You mayread the messageMr. Gordon."
Gordon opened the paper and looked at it for some seconds of time with agrave and perplexed expressionand thenwith a short breathas one
who takes a plungeread it aloud. "This is it" he said.
To General Renauld. Cable OfficeTangier. -- They leave Tangier Tuesdayat midnightthey land at daybreak Thursday morning on the south beach below theold breakwater. The secret of the expedition was sold us for three hundredthousand francs by the Countess Zara and the Prince Kalonay.
Gordon stuck the paper in his pocketandcrossing to Kalonayheld out hishandwith a smile. "I don't believe itof course" he said;"but you would have it."
Kalonay neither saw the gesture nor heard the words. He was turning inbewilderment from the King to Father Pauland he laughed uncertainly.
"What nonsense is this?" he demanded. "Whose sorry trick isthis? The lie is not even ingenious."
General Renauld had not spoken since he had entered the roombut now headvanced in front of Kalonay and faced him with a threatening gesture.
"The President of Messina does not liesir" he saidsternly."I myself saw the Countess Zara
write out that paperwhich I and others signedand in which we agreed to payto her and to you the money you asked for betraying your King."
Father Paul pressed his hand heavily on Kalonay's shoulder. "Do notanswer him" he commanded. Gordon had moved to Kalonay's other sideandthe three men had unconsciously assumed an attitude of defenceand stood backto back in a little group facing the angry circle that encompassed them. Thepriest raised his arm to command a hearing.
"Where is Madame Zara?" he cried.
"Ahwhere indeed?" echoed the Kingsinking back into his chair."She has fled. It is all too evident now; she has betrayed us and she hasfled."
But on his wordsas if in answer to the priest's summonsthe curtains thathid the door into the King's private room were pulled to one sideand MadameZara appeared between themglancing fearfully at the excited crowd before her.As she stood hesitating on the thresholdshe swayed slightly and clutched thecurtains for a moment as though for support. The priest advancedand led her tothe centre of the room. She held a folded paper in her handwhich she gave tohim in silence.
"You have heard what has passed?" he askedwith a toss of his headtoward the heavy curtains. The woman raised her head and bowed. The priestunfolded the paper.
"Am I to read this?" he asked. The woman bowed again.
There was silence in the room while the priest's eyes ran quickly over thepaper. He crushed it in his hand.
"It is as General Renauld says" he exclaimed. "In this theRepublic of Messina agrees to pay the Countess Zara and the Prince Kalonay threehundred thousand francsif the expedition is withdrawn after it has made apretence of landing on the shores of Messina."
He took a step forward. "Madame Zara" he criedin a tone ofwarning"do you pretend that the Prince Kalonay was your accomplice inthis; that he knew what you meant to do?"
Madame Zara once more bowed her head.
"No! You must speak" commanded the priest. "Answer me!"
Zara hesitatedin evident distressand glanced appealingly at the King; butthe expression on his face was one of grief and of unrelenting virtue. "Ido" she saidat lastin a low voice. "Kalonay did know. He thoughtthe revolution would
not succeed; he thought it would failand so -- and so -- and we needed money.They made me -- IO my GodI cannot -- I cannot!" she criedsuddenlysinking on her knees and hiding her face with her hands.
Kalonay stepped toward her and lifted her gently to her feet; but when shelooked and saw who it was that held hershe gave a cry and pulled herself free.She staggered and would have fallenhad not Gordon caught and held her by thearm. The King rose from his chair and pointed at the shrinking figure of thewoman.
"Stand aside from her" he saidsternly. "Why should we pityherwhat pity has she shown for us -- for me? She has robbed me of myinheritance. But let her goshe is a woman; we cannot punish her. Her sins reston her own head. But you -- you" he criedturning fiercely on Kalonayhis voice rising to a high and melancholy key"you whom I have heaped withhonorswhom I have leaned upon as on the arm of a brotherthat you should havesold me for silverthat you should have turned Judas!"
The crowd of volunteersbewildered by the rapid succession of eventsandconfused and rendered desperate by the failure of their expeditioncaught upthe wordand pressing forward with a
rushsurrounded Kalonay in an angry circlecrying "Judas!""Traitor!" and "Coward!"
Kalonay turned from side to side. On some he smiled bitterly in silenceandat others he broke out into swift and fierce denunciations; but the men aroundhim crowded closer and would not permit him to be heard. He had turned uponthemagain challenging them to listenwhen there was an opening in the circleand the men stepped backand Miss Carson pushed her way among them and haltedat Kalonay's side. She did not look at himbut at the men about him. She wasthe only calm figure in the groupand her calmness at such a crisisand heryouthand the fineness and fearlessness of her beautysurprised them into asudden quiet. There was instantly a cry for orderand the men stood curious andpuzzledwatching to see what she would do.
"Gentlemen" she saidin a cleargrave voice."Gentlemen" she repeatedsharplyas a few murmurs still greetedher"if you are gentlemenlet this lady speak. She has notfinished." She crossed quickly and took the Countess Zara by the hand."Go onmadameshe urgedgently. "Do not be afraid. You say theymade you do it. Who made you do it? You have told us a part of the truth. Nowtell us the whole truth." For a moment
the girl seemed much the older of the twoand as Zara glanced up at herfearfullyshe smiled to reassure herand stroked the woman's hand with herown. "Who made you do it?" she repeated. "Not the Prince Kalonaysurely. You cannot hope to make us believe that. We trust him absolutely. Whowas itthen?"
The King sprang forward with an oath; his apathy and mock dignity had fallenfrom him like a mask. His face was mottledand his vicious little eyes flashedwith fear and anger. Erhaupt crowded close behind himcrouching like a dog athis heels.
"She has lied enough already" the King cried. "We will notlisten to her. Take her away."
"Yeslet her go" shouted Erhauptwith a laugh. "If she hadbeen a decent woman -- -- "
There was a quick parting in the group and the sound of a heavy blow asKalonay flung himself upon Erhaupt and struck him in the faceso that hestaggered and fell at length upon the floor. Gordon stood over himhis fingerstwitching at his side.
"Stand upyou bully" he said"and get out of thisbeforewe throw you out."
Zara's face had turned a pitiful crimsonbut her eyes flashed and burnedwith resolve and indignation.
She stood erect and menacinglike an angry goddessand more beautiful in herindignation than they had ever seen her.
"NowI shall tell them the truth" she saidsternly. "Thatman" she criedpointing her finger at the King"that man whom theycall a King -- that man who would have sacrificed the only friend who serves himunselfishly -- is the man who sold your secret to the enemy. It was he who mademe do it. He sent me to Messinaand while the priest and the Prince Kalonaywere working in the southI sold them to the government at the capital. Barratknew itErhaupt knew itthe King himself planned it -- to get money. He hasrobbed all of his own people; he had meant to rob this young girl; and he is somean and pitiful a creature that to save himself he now tries to hide behind theskirts of a womanand to sacrifice her-- the woman who has given her soul tohim. And for this -- my God!" she criedher voice rising in an accent ofagony and bitter contempt -- "for this!"
There was a grim and momentous silence in the room while Zara turnedandwithout waiting to learn what effect her words might havemade her way swiftlythrough the crowd and passed on out of the room and on to the terrace beyond.
The King crouched back in his chair like a common criminal in the dockglancing fearfully from under his lowered eyebrows at the faces about himandon none did he see the least question of doubt but that Zara had at last spokenthe truth.
"She lies" the King mutteredas though answering their unspokenthoughts"the woman lies."
There was no movement from the men about him. Shame for himand grief andbitter disappointment for themselvesshowed on the face of each. From outside asea-breeze caught up the sand of the beach and drove it whispering against thehigh windowsand the beat of the waves upon the shores filled out and markedthe silence of the room.
The Prince Kalonay stepped from the circle and stood for a moment before theKingregarding him with an expression of grief and bitter irony. The King'seyes rose insolentlyand falteredand sank.
"For many yearsyour Majesty" the Prince saidbut so solemnlythat it was as though he were a judge upon the benchor a priest speakingacross an open grave"the Princes of my house have served the Kings ofyours. In times of war
they fought for the King in battlethey beggared themselves for him in times ofpeace; our women sold their jewels for the Kingour men gave him their livesand in all of these centuries the story of their loyaltyof their devotionhashad but one sequeland has met with but one reward-- ingratitude andselfishness and treachery. You know how I have served youLouis. You know thatI gave up my fortune and my home to go into exile with youand I did thatgladly. But I did more than that. I did more than any king or any man has theright to expect of any other man. I served your idle purposes so well that youyourselfcalled me your jackalthe only title your Majesty has ever bestowedthat was deserved. There is no low thing nor no base thing that I have not donefor you. To serve your pleasuresto gain you moneyI have sunken so low thatall the royal blood in Europe could not make me clean. But there is a limit towhat a man may do for his Kingand to the loyalty a King may have the right todemand. And to-day and herewith methe story of our devotion to your Houseendsand you go your way and I go mineand the last of my race breaks hissword and throws it at your feetand is done with you and yours forever."
Even those in the room who held no sympathy
in their hearts for the sentiment that had inspired the young manfelt that atthat moment and in their hearing he had renounced what was to him his religionand his faithand on the faces of all was the expression of a deep pity andconcern. Their own adventurein the light of his grief and bitterness ofspiritseemed selfish and littleand they stood motionlessin an awed andsorrowful silence.
The tense strain of the moment was broken suddenly by the advent on the sceneof an actor who hadin the rush of eventsbeen neglected and forgotten. Thelittle Crown Prince had stood clinging to his nurse's skirtsan uncomprehendingspectator of what was going forward. But he now advanced slowlyfeeling thatthe silence invited him to claim his father's notice. He halted beside the chairin which Louis sathis head bent on his handsand made an effort to drawhimself up to his father's knee.
But the King pushed him downand hid his face from him. The child turnedirresolutelywith a troubled countenanceandlooking upsaw that theattention of all was fixed upon him. At this discovery a sudden flood of shynessovertook himand he retreated hastily until his eyes fell on the PrinceKalonaystanding alonewith his own eyes
turned resolutely away. There was a breathless hush in the room as the childwith a happy sighran to his former friend and comradeand reached up both hisarms. The tableau was a familiar one to those who knew themand meant only thatthe child asked to be lifted up and swung to the man's shoulder; but followingas it did on what had just passedthe gesture and the attitude carried withthem the significance of an appeal. Kalonayas though with a great effortlowered his eyes to the upturned face of the child below himbut held himselfback and stood stiffly erect. A sharp shake of the headas though he arguedwith himselfwas the only sign he gave of the struggle that was going on withinhim.
At this second repulsethe child's arms dropped to his sidehis lipsquiveredand he stooda lonely little figureglancing up at the circle of menabout himand struggling to press back the tears that came creeping to hiseyes.
Kalonay regarded him steadfastly for a brief momentas though he saw him asa strangersearching his face with eyes as pitiful as the child's own; andthenwith a suddensharp crythe Prince dropped on his knee and caught thechild toward himcrushing him against his heartand burying his face on hisshoulder. There was a
shout of exultation from the noblesand an uttered prayer from the priestandin a moment the young men had crowded in around themstruggling to be the firstto kiss the child's handsand to ask pardon of the man who held him in hisarms.
"Gentlemen" Kalonay criedhis voice laughing through his tears"we shall still sail for the island of Messina. They shall not say of usthat we visited the sins of the father on a child. I was weakmy friendsand Iwas credulous. I thought I could break the tradition of centuries. But ourinstincts are stronger than our prideand the House I have always served Ishall serve to the last." He swung the Crown Prince high upon his shoulderand held his other arm above his head. "You will help me place this childupon his throne" he commandedand the room rang with cheers. "Youwill appeal to his people" he cried. "Do you not think they will riseto this standard-bearerwill they not rally to his call? For he is a truePrincemy comradeswho comes to them with no stain of wrong or treacherywithout a taintas untarnished as the white snow that lies summer and winter inthe hollow of our hills`and a child shall lead usand a child shall set themfree.' To the yacht!" he shouted. "We will sail at onceand whilethey wait for us to be betrayed
into their hands at the northwe shall be landing in the southand thousandswill be hurrying to our standard."
His last words were lost in a tumult of cheers and criesand the young menpoured out upon the terracerunning toward the shoreand filling the softnight-air with shouts of "Long live the Prince Regent!" "Longlive our King!"
As the room grew empty Kalonay crossed it swiftly and advancing to MissCarson took her hand. His face was radiant with triumph and content. He regardedher steadily for a momentas though he could not find words to tell hisfeelings.
"You had faith in me" he saidat last. "Can I ever make youunderstand how much that means to me? When all had turned against me you trustedmeyou had faith in mein the King's jackal."
"Silence; you must never say that again" the girl commandedgently. "You have shown it to be the lie it always was. We shall call youthe Defender of the Faith now; you are the guardian of a King." She smiledat the little boy in his armsand made a slight courtesy to them both."You have outgrown your old title" she said; "you have a proudone nowyou will be the Prince Regent."
Kalonaywith the child in his armsand Miss
Carson were standing quite alone. General Renauld had been led awayguarded bya merry band of youngsters; the King still crouched in his chairwith Barratbowed behind himbut pullingwith philosophic calmon a cigaretteand FatherPaul and Gordon were in close conversation with Mrs. Carson at the farther endof the room. The sun had setand the apartment was in semi-darkness. Kalonaymoved closer to Miss Carson and looked boldly into her eyes"There is aprouder title than that of the Regent" he whispered; "will you evergive it me?"
The girl startedbreathing quicklyand turned her head asidemaking aneffort to free her handbut Kalonay held it closer in his own. "Will yougive it me?" he begged.
Then the girl looked up at him smilingbut with such confidence and love inher eyes that he read his answerthough she shook her headas though to beliethe truth her eyes had told him.
"When you have done your work" she saidcome to me or send formeand I shall come and give you my answer; and whether you fail or succeed theanswer will be the same."
Kalonay stooped quickly and kissed her handand when he raised his face hiseyes were smiling with such happiness that the little child in his arms
read it thereand smiled too in sympathyand pressed his face closer againsthis comrade's shoulder.
Gordon at this moment moved across the room and bowedmaking a deepobeisance to the child.
"Might I be permitted" he asked"to kiss his Royal Highness?I should like to boast of the factlater" he explained.
The Crown Prince turned his sadwise eyes on him in silenceand gravelyextended a little hand.
"You may kiss his Highness's hand" said Kalonaysmiling.
Gordon laughed and pressed the fingers in his own.
"When you talk like thatKalonay" he said"you make me feellike Alice in the court-room with the Kings and Queens around her. A dozen timesthis afternoon I've felt like saying`After allthey are only a pack ofcards.'"
Kalonay shook his head and glanced toward Miss Carson for enlightenment.
"I don't understand" he said.
"Noyou couldn't be expected to" said Gordon; "You have notbeen educated up to that. It is the point of view."
He stuck out the middle finger of his handand drove it three timesdeliberately into the side of the
Crown Prince. The child gasped and stared open-mouthed at the friendly strangerand then catching the laugh in Gordon's eyeslaughed with him.
"Now" said Gordon"I shall say that I have dug the King ofMessina in the ribs -- that is even better than having kissed him. God blessyour Royal Highness" he saidbowing gravely. "You may find medisrespectful at times" he added; "but thenyou must rememberI amgoing to risk a valuable life for you. At least it's an extremely valuable oneto me."
Kalonay looked at Gordon for a moment with serious considerationand thenheld out his hand. "You also had faith in me" he said. "I thankyou. Are you in earnest; do you really wish to serve us?"
"I mean to stay by you until the boy is crowned" said theAmerican"unless we separate on our several paths of glory -- where theywill lead dependsI imagineon how we have lived."
"Or on how we die" Kalonay added. "I am glad to hear youspeak so. If you wishI shall attach you to the person of the Crown Prince. Youshall be on the staff with the rank of Colonel."
Gordon made a low and sweeping bow.
"RiseSir Archibald Gordon" he said. "I thank you" headded. "We shall strive to please."
Miss Carson shook her head at himand sighed in protest.
"Will you always take everything as a jokeArchie?" she said.
"My dear Patty" he answered"the situation is much tooserious to take in any other way."
They moved to the doorand there the priest and Mrs. Carson joined them; buton the threshold Kalonay stopped and looked for the first time since he hadaddressed him at the King.
He regarded him for some seconds sternly in silenceand then pointedwithhis free handat the crown of Messinawhich still rested on the table at theKing's elbow. "Colonel Gordon" he saidin a tone of assuredauthority"I give the crown of Messina into your keeping. You will conveyitwith all proper regard for its dignitysafely on board the yachtand thenbring it at once to me."
When he had finished speaking the Prince turned andwithout looking at theKingpassed on with the others across the terrace and disappeared in thedirection of the shorewhere the launch lay waiting.
Gordon crossed the room and picked up the crown from the tablelifting itwith both handsthe King and Barrat watching him in silence as he
did so. He hesitatedand held it for a momentregarding it with much the sameexpression of awe and amusement that a man shows when he is permitted to hold astrange baby in his arms. Turninghe saw the sinister eyes of the King and ofBarrat fastened upon himand he smiled awkwardlyand in some embarrassmentturned the crown about in his handsso that the jewels in its circle gleameddully in the dim light of the room. Gordon raised the crown and balanced it onhis finger-tipsregarding it severely and shaking his head.
"There are very few of these left in the world nowyour Majesty"he saidcheerfully"and the number is getting smaller every year. We havenone at all in my countryand I should think -- seeing they are so few -- thatthose who have them would take better care of themand try to keep themuntarnishedand brushed upand clean." He turned his head and lookedinquiringly at the Kingbut Louis made no sign that he heard him.
"I have no desireyou understand me" continued Gordonunabashed"to take advantage of a man when he is downbut the temptation to say `Itold you so' seems almost impossible to resist. What?" he asked -- "Ibeg your pardonI thought
you spoke." But the King continued scornfully silentand only acontemptuous snort from Barrat expressed his feelings.
Gordon placed the crown carefully under his armand then removed it quicklywith a guilty look of dismay at its former ownerand let it swing from hishand; but this fashion of carrying it seemed also lacking in respectso he heldit up again with both hands and glanced at the King in some perplexity.
"There ought to be a sofa-cushion to go with thisor something to carryit on" he saidin a grieved tone. "You seeI am new at this sort ofthing. Perhaps your Majesty would kindly give me some expert information. How doyou generally carry it?"
The King's eyes snapped open and shut again.
"On my head" he saidgrimly.
Gordon laughed in great relief.
"Nowdo you knowI like that" he cried. "That shows spirit.I am glad to see you take it so cheerfully. WellI must be goingsir" headdednoddingand moving toward the door. "Don't be discouraged. Assomeone says`It's always morning somewhere' and in my country there's just asgood men out of office as there are in it. Good-night."
While the sound of Gordon's footsteps died away across the marble terracethe King and Barrat remained motionless and silent. The darkness in the roomdeepened and the silence seemed to deepen with it; and still they remainedimmovabletwo shadowy figures in the deserted apartment where the denunciationsof those who had abandoned them still seemed to hang and echo in the darkness.What thoughts passed through their minds or for how long a time they might stillhave sat in bitter contemplation can only be guessedfor they were surprised bythe sharp rattle of a lockthe two great doors of the adjoining room werethrown wide openand a broad and brilliant light flooded the apartment.Niccolasthe King's majordomostood between the doorsa black silhouetteagainst the glare of many candles.
"His Majesty is served!" he said.
The King lifted his head sharplyas though he found some lurking mockery inthe wordsor some fresh affront; but in the obsequious bow of his majordomothere was no mockeryand the table beyond glistened with silverwhile apungent and convincing odor of rich food was wafted insidiously through the opendoors.
The King rose with a gentle sighand nodded to his companion.
"ComeBarrat" he saidtaking the baron's arm in his. "Therascals have robbed us of our thronebutthank Godthey have had the grace toleave me my appetite."